Big tech takes the wheel. Is packaging dead? French tech funding.

Not that magical


Call me a backseat car designer, but I think this is a truly ugly car.

Oh wait, there is no back seat? 

This is the Electra Meccanica Solo EV, designed in Canada. I’m all for an electric vehicle with a low carbon footprint, but this is not what it should look like, IMO. 

In any case, the markets will decide if this thing has potential, since the company has filed to go public next week on the Nasdaq.

For a gallery of product flops, please look no further

One small leap

Ouch. Magic Leap finally launched its new headset and the early reviews are underwhelming. 

There's this one from The Verge:

And this one from Wired:

Our recent webinar on AR/VR was insanely popular. We had over 3,000 people sign up.

There are plenty of folks across the media/entertainment, medical, retail, and manufacturing industries — to name a few — that are super excited about the potential for “artificial reality” experiences, as we’ve taken to describing them.

Even after raising $2.4B, does Magic Leap have a shot at this, or is it just going to be bigfooted by Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, or some other even more well-resourced company with an interest in this space?

Curious what people think.

En vogue

Dollar funding to French tech companies is on track to reach $3.7B by year-end, surpassing 2017 totals by 17% and setting a new record high.

Learn more about emerging trends, investments, and active investors in France in the new report from La French Tech and CB Insights.

Anticipate my needs

Autonomous driving technology could make a lot more people passengers instead of drivers. Amazon and Apple want to optimize the ride with personalization features.

Both companies have filed new patents that outline systems to identify passengers and tailor the driving experience to their preferences. We take a closer look at them here.

What's in the box?!

People are shopping more online while also looking for more eco-friendly packaging. Companies want to use their packaging for customer engagement.

With these pressures coming from above and below, the packaging industry will have to adapt.

From supporting new shopping methods to making products safer, we look at 4 major trends driving packaging disruption.

 Sugar, how'd you get so fly?

The Consumer Goods Forum found last year that 102 leading global food companies viewed sugar as the top ingredient they hope to remove, but finding the perfect low-calorie substitute is a big challenge.

We look at 5 startups that are using technology to create new sugar alternatives. Clients can see the full list here.

 Prepare to qualify

The gaming industry played a crucial role in advancing AI technology. Now AI is returning the favor.

From gameplay to marketing to consumer engagement, we take a look at how startups are integrating AI into gaming and esports. Clients can check it out here.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. Have a case study about how your team implements ideas or taps external ecosystems? Tell us about it at our upcoming TRANSFORM conference.

This week in data:

  • 17 million monthly rides: Yesterday, New York became the first major US city to cap ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, putting a 12-month freeze on new vehicle licenses while it studies fallout from the industry. Some are worried the cap will increase ride prices and wait times, while others hope it will decrease congestion in the city. Currently, there are about 80,000 vehicles providing 17 million app-based rides per month in New York City.
  • A $1.43B tweet: On Tuesday afternoon, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Cue a market frenzy, in which shares increased more than 7% before trading was halted just 80 minutes after the tweet. Elon Musk’s net worth is tied to Tesla’s stock price — meaning he theoretically made $1.43B in a day. While some speculated the tweet was a “420” joke, Musk followed up by writing that he was seriously considering taking the company private, though a final decision had not been made. Now, Tesla may face an SEC investigation for violation of securities law: if it turns out funding is not fully secure, Musk’s “funding secure” announcement could constitute securities fraud. We recently rounded up 8 industries being disrupted by Musk’s companies, including Tesla. Check it out.

  • 0.2%: Consumers aren’t going shopping with Alexa, according to a new study from The Information (which reportedly briefed two people on Amazon’s internal figures). Of some 50 million Alexa users, only 1 million have tried buying something via the voice assistant. And only 100,000 (0.2% of users) have used it to buy something more than once, meaning customers who try it out aren’t sticking with it. Amazon issued a statement saying it disagrees with the numbers in the study. We cover Amazon’s voice strategy in our massive Amazon Strategy Teardown and the companies already set to disrupt Amazon in the voice assistant space here
  • $2,295: As of yesterday, AR/VR unicorn Magic Leap has officially shipped its first mixed reality headset: the $2,295 Magic Leap One Creator Edition. The Verge and Wired have penned some of the first reviews (as shown above). The headset will be available in select US cities (including New York, San Francisco, LA, and Seattle), with demos to be shown at certain AT&T stores. The release is primarily targeted at artists and app developers who will be able to design their own apps for the Magic Leap World store. With almost $2.4B in funding and a $5B valuation, Magic Leap is featured on our map of the highest-funded startup in every state, as well as on the CB Insights unicorn tracker.

  • 1.2 billion bank accounts?: Facebook wants even more of your data. The social media giant has been asking large US banks — including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup — to share their customers’ card transactions, shopping habits, and checking account balances, according to an article published in the WSJ earlier this week. Facebook denies that it’s actively asking for financial transaction data, saying it’s simply looking to partner with banks and credit card companies to offer customer service through its Messenger app, which surpassed 1.2B monthly users earlier this year. One of Facebook’s recent patents highlights this use case, illustrating how users might interact with a chatbot to makes purchases through Messenger. Read more here.
  • 500,000 lbs: Impossible Foods, creator of the “bleeding” vegan Impossible Burger, has grown enormously: the company’s Oakland, CA facility now puts out some 500,000 pounds of plant-based meat each month, compared to the 4,000 pounds per month it churned out upon opening its factory last March. Over the same time period, it’s gone from selling at just 40 restaurants to over 3,000. For more on the expanding space, check out our report on how meatless tech is disrupting the $90B global meat market.

  • 3 cheer(leader)s: The first male cheerleaders will join the NFL this season, CNN reported earlier this week. Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies will cheer for the Los Angeles Rams after making the squad back in March, while Jess Hernandez will join the New Orleans Saints' Saintsations squad. The additions may be a step forward for the NFL, which has come under fire for gender inequality this year after a New Orleans Saints cheerleader filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on claims that the football team has rules discriminating against women. While some other teams have male stuntmen on their squads, this season will be the first time men will cheer alongside women, performing the same moves.
One more thing...

Last month, the Liebian International Plaza opened in Guiyang, China. The building contains a hotel, a shopping mall, offices, and a 354-foot waterfall. That's 166 feet taller than Niagara Falls' Horseshoe Falls drop.

Four floors of the building are dedicated to the machinery that powers the waterfall, which includes four 184-kilowatt pumps that push thousands of gallons per water per second up 354-foot tall pipes.

This all costs $116/hour. It's reportedly so expensive that the building only runs the waterfall on holidays.

The waterfall serves no functional purpose.
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