Unbundling the AV. CEOs eat crow. Microsoft's shopping list.

Laying bear the issues


A robot punctured a can of bear-repellent spray at an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey today, sickening 50 people and sending 24 to the hospital.

The incident refocused attention on the limits of robots and automation.

Robots are still clumsy with edge cases. They are not good at gripping things gently (one holy grail in robotics is a “universal end effector,” aka a robot hand that is as dexterous as the human one), and they can be stumped by the simplest barriers. 

Tim O’Reilly once quipped that if a robot is coming to kill you, all you have to do is close a door behind you and you’ll be safe. 

One of the fastest-growing segment of robotics is known as cobots. These are robots designed to work alongside humans.

These robots are getting better at being nimble, safe, and gentle — all qualities that are harder to program than being able to navigate a warehouse or combine 5 objects in a box most efficiently.  

Meanwhile many jobs will remain safe ... for now.

The future of protecting your stuff

We've glimpsed the future of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance space — it involves drones, social media, wearables, and much more.

Download our newest NExTT report to see the 15 biggest trends transforming P&C insurance.

Very important people 

The Future of Fintech is coming back to Jazz at Lincoln Center June 11-13, 2019.

Want to nominate a speaker? Go here.

Note: The bar for speakers will be insanely high this year. Here's a selection of past speakers from The Future of Fintech:

  • CEO, Affirm (unicorn)   
  • CEO, SoFi (unicorn)
  • CEO, Nubank (unicorn)
  • CEO, Credit Karma (unicorn)  
  • CEO, Oscar (unicorn)  
  • CEO, Robinhood (unicorn)
  • Co-founder, TransferWise (unicorn)    
  • Co-founder, Palantir (unicorn)
  • CEO, Nasdaq (ticker: NDAQ)
  • COO ZhongAn Insurance (ticker: 6060:HK) 
  • CEO, MunichRe America (ticker: MURGY)   
  • CEO, Paytm Labs (unicorn)      
  • CTO, Bank of America (ticker: BAC)

Speaker nominations due here by December 14th.

Let's unpack that

Several advanced technologies work together to make autonomous driving possible.

We take a closer look at how they function and the startups driving innovation in AV tech.

 Buy, buy, buy

Microsoft is one of the most acquisitive companies of all time, snapping up 75 companies since 2013.

We break down the tech giant's shopping habits to see which industry has piqued its interest the most. Expert Intelligence clients can see it here.

Open mouth, insert foot

Change is hard to accept. That's why small, disruptive companies have historically transformed industries when incumbents were looking the other way.

We've compiled 43 examples of big corporate execs who shrugged off disruption when it appeared. Read them all here.

 Bank on it

Banking automation startups have caught the attention of investors. A record 182 investors participated in funding rounds to these companies so far in 2018.

We take a look at the most active investors in banking automation. Expert Intelligence clients can see them here.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. On December 18, we'll be discussing food and grocery trends to watch in 2019. Sign up for the briefing here.

This week in data:

  • $15.1B: The ride-hailing IPO race is heating up. This morning, Lyft announced that it had confidentially filed to go public, putting it on track to list in Q1’19 — ahead of when Uber will likely IPO. Lyft has not yet determined the number of shares to be offered or the price range, though the company was most recently valued at $15.1B in June of this year. (Uber is valued at $72B.) We dug into ride-hailing co valuation multiples in a recent client note — CBI clients can get the data here.
  • $7.59: In other auto news, Waymo’s self-driving car unit launched its commercial driverless taxi service this week. The service, Waymo One, will cover a roughly 100-mile zone in suburbs of Phoenix. A 15-minute, 3-mile ride will run customers $7.59. For now, the 24/7 service will be limited to “early riders” who have already been part of Waymo’s test program. We recently rounded up 46 corporations working on autonomous vehicles, from Waymo to Nissan to GM. Check it out.

  • $1.6B: California-based business intelligence platform Looker just became the newest unicorn. The startup reached a hefty $1.6B valuation following a $103M Series E round from Cross Creek Advisors and Premji Invest. Previous investors have included capitalG, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and First Round Capital. We mentioned Looker in our Disrupting Management Consulting report. We also included it on a recent list of 10 enterprise IT startups ripe for acquisition. Expert intelligence clients can view the other 9 cos here.

  • 20 yards: The US Secret Service wants to begin testing a facial recognition surveillance system around the White House. The test will compare closed circuit video footage of the public spaces around the White House against a database of images of volunteer White House employees, using tech that is supposed to analyze faces up to 20 yards from a camera. Our China in AI series examined how Chinese governments are already using facial recognition surveillance tech. Read about it here.
  • 30: Swedish furniture retailer IKEA — known for its sprawling suburban warehouses — announced plans to open its first US city center store in Manhattan in Spring 2019. The Planning Studio concept will allow urban shoppers to browse furniture in person and select products for home delivery. The store will open some 30 city-center locations over the next three years, with potential sites in LA, San Francisco, and DC. Our brick-and-mortar retail report dives into the trends around small format and city center stores. Download it here.

  • 1st: Oil & gas giant Shell announced it will link executive pay to carbon emissions targets — the first energy company to do so. The policy will be based on 3- to 5-year targets beginning in 2020. The announcement was made in partnership with Climate Action 100+, an initiative by 300+ investors to call on companies to curb emissions. Clients with expert intelligence can read more about Shell’s investment strategy here.
  • 34,798: Hershey Bears hockey fans broke a heartwarming record when they donated 34,798 stuffed animals during this week’s game. The annual Teddy Bear Toss broke the previous record of about 29,000 donated stuffed animals set in 2015. The bears will be donated to 30+ local charities, including schools, churches, the American Cancer Society, and Children’s Miracle Network.
One more thing...


Pantone has picked 2019's Color of the Year: Living Coral.

Vice president Laurie Pressman explains the color was chosen because it "embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment."

Living Coral complements most skin tones because of its orange base, and it can be used almost like a neutral in interior design.

Time to repaint your entire life.
Download the CB Insights mobile app today.


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