Duds, duds everywhere
This has been a summer of disappointment when it comes to emerging tech.
Magic Leap’s much-anticipated AR headset has been considered a dud, a flurry of studies have raised questions about CRISPR’s precision, blockchain mania seems to have hit a trough, and big tech is struggling to see consistent results with truly autonomous vehicles.
(By the way, for clients, we wrote about how Uber should consider spinning off its autonomy division.)
Meanwhile, 3D printing — which is no longer considered sexy — is increasingly seeing commercial deployments.
As we’ve written, 3D printing has found niches in at least 25 separate industries: everything from medical prosthetics to pharmaceuticals to auto parts and building construction (see This Week in Data below).
It’s been mentioned 100+ times in public company earnings calls every quarter since 2016, as our data shows. Companies talking about it include Nike, Zerox, and Stryker.
Here's Xerox’s new CEO John Visentin during a Q2'18 call:
“We also have new technologies that have potential to be disruptive,” he said, and his first example was Xerox’s intent to “make printheads that could change the industry in 3D printing.”
Sometimes what’s old is new again, eh?
After being stuck in the analog age for decades, the supply chain and logistics industry is finally starting to embrace digitization.
From autonomous trucking to last-mile AV and drones, we take a look at 125+ startups transforming the space.
Blockchain to sustain
Many large retailers, including Walmart and Levi Strauss, are making their supply chains more sustainable to meet consumer demand for more eco-friendly practices.
To help them achieve their goals, tech corporates and startups are offering sustainability solutions that leverage blockchain, AI, and more. We take a closer look at their strategies, which clients can read about here.
Pre-fabricated and fabulous
Funding to construction tech startups this year has already outpaced 2017 by 60%, and there's still a quarter to go. Much of that money is concentrated in pre-fabricated construction companies like Katerra.
Valued at $3B, Katerra is the most well-funded and most hyped construction tech startup — but recently, reports of difficulties at the company have surfaced. We take a closer look here.
Do you feel this energy?
Startups are building software to improve the electric grid. We take a look at 7 companies that are changing the way power is stored, managed, and distributed. Clients can see them all here.
Hello Mother, hello Father
Parenting- and maternity-related advice platforms have become extremely popular in China. Their immediate impact is on the parenting and baby tech space, but CPG and food brands also have something to gain.
We take a look at how CPG companies can leverage parenting platforms' massive user bases to reach Chinese consumers.
Have a great rest of the week.
P.S. On September 6, we'll be discussing how the CPG industry is being disrupted. Register for the briefing here.
This week in data:
- $2B: Online survey platform SurveyMonkey has filed for an IPO, with plans to trade on NASDAQ under the ticker “SVMK.” The Palo Alto-based company was last valued at $2B following a $250M private equity round in 2014. According to the filing, SurveyMonkey has 600K paying user accounts. The 19-year-old company is currently unprofitable and indebted ($317M in debt, roughly $100M more than it had in revenue last year), though it is increasing sales. It currently plans to raise $100M in the IPO.
- 25%: One-quarter of Dubai’s new buildings will be made using 3D printers by 2025, as part of an aggressive 3D-printing initiative begun in 2016 by UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The effort aims to reduce labor by 70% and cut production costs by 90% across industries, as well as to make Dubai the world’s first “3D-printing hub.” Construction isn’t the only industry 3D printing could overhaul — medication, food, medical implants, and even archaeology stand to be disrupted by the technology. Check out our recent report on 25 Industries That 3D Printing Could Disrupt.
- 4th: This week Apple acquired augmented reality startup Akonia Holographics, a developer of AR glasses. This is Apple’s 4th acquisition of the year, alongside digital magazine platform Texture, data science consultant Silicon Valley Data Science, and cloud service platform BuddyBuild. The tech giant is allegedly preparing to ship an AR headset or device as early as 2020 to succeed its iPhone, and this acquisition could help. Akonia’s “HoloMirror” technology projects full-color images onto the transparent glass of its AR headsets, overlaying virtual images on the real world. We recently dove into how AR-based mixed reality is poised to become the next big mobile platform, taking the digital world beyond the bounds of a smartphone screen. Get the analysis here.
- 1: People are the cause of most automated vehicle accidents, and even when AVs were at fault, humans were usually at the wheel, according to Axios. Of 38 accidents involving a moving, autonomous mode AV in California in 2014 - 2018, AVs were found to be at fault in only 1, while humans were responsible for the other 37. And here’s a strange new stat: in the last year, there have been 3 incidents of humans intentionally attacking self-driving cars, by hitting or climbing it. As self-driving technology progresses, tech giants like Apple & Amazon are patenting new ways to customize AVs. Check it out.
- 2.3M: Rates of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia have climbed for the 4th consecutive year, according to a new report from the CDC. Last year, nearly 2.3M US cases of these STDs were diagnosed — an all-time high, breaking the 2016 record by more than 200,000 cases. Experts say contributing factors may be less frequent condom use, as well as a decline in funding for federal and state agencies working on STD prevention: in the last 15 years, purchasing power for the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention has fallen 40%. We recently rounded up notable startups focused on women's sexual health — clients can check them out here.
- 1 in 50: The number of airplane passengers who meet the love of their lives onboard a plane, according to a new study from British bank HSBC. The study interviewed 2,150 people from 141 countries about their flying experiences, and found over half of passengers have struck up a conversation with a stranger on a plane, while 16% have found a new business connection on a flight.
- 3M: In other love connection news, Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., which owns gay dating app Grindr, has announced plans to take the app public. Grindr is allegedly the world’s largest gay social media network, with more than 3M daily active users who send some 228M messages and 20M photos through the platform each day. For more on the dating app world — from group dating to astrological matchmaking — check out our dating app market map.
- $11,000: To celebrate the 128th birthday of its founder Colonel Harland Sanders, KFC is offering to donate $11,000 to a college fund for the first baby named Harland that’s born on September 9th, the Colonel’s birthday. This is the latest in a series of quirky marketing plays by KFC; recently the company released a video of the World’s Strongest Man and “Game of Thrones” actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson pulling a 700lb sleigh of chicken sandwiches.