I was at a silent meditation retreat this week in the Yungas Mountains ahead of my annual migration to Coachella. So I missed the headlines this week.
Anything interesting happen in tech?
Seriously, despite the distractions, our excellent research team was hard at work.
You’ll see some of the team's work below, starting with our MoneyTree Venture Capital report with PwC. The big news is that Q1'18 was a record quarter for AI funding.
The category has gone from a tiny sliver to a sizable slice of the VC-backed universe.
In fact, the "AI for X" trend is so on fire it’s taken on the unlikeliest of verticals.
For example, just this week Vani Khosla (daughter of Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures) invested in a $1.2M angel round to Magic AI Corp, which has created an AI for horses product called Stableguard. Qualcomm Ventures is also a backer.
Stableguard is a platform that uses data, surveillance, and algorithms to always be sure your horses have been blanketed, fillies are fed and mellowing out, and that Mr. Ed’s water bucket is always brimming over.
Believe it or not, it has a competitor in Sweden’s Hoofstep.
The horsey stuff might be laughed at as a pastime for the 1%, but let’s not forget polo ponies get $25K and above, and racehorses go for hundreds of thousands. The Kentucky Derby next month will have a payout above $1.2M.
So, if your hoofed pet costs more than a lambo you’re definitely going to shell out for Stableguard…or Hoofstep.
Have a great weekend.
P.S. On Tuesday, we'll be discussing the future of protein. Sign up here to join us at the webinar.
This week in data:
5: In Q1’18, 5 new VC-backed companies reached $1B+ valuations, including UiPath, Intercom, and DoorDash. Read about this and more in our newly released Q1’18 MoneyTree Report with PwC, covering the latest global VC trends.
5,000: Having fallen behind on production goals for the Tesla Model 3, Elon Musk is feeling the pressure. In an interview earlier this week, he said he has been sleeping on the factory floor because he “[doesn’t] have time to go home and shower.” Although behind, Tesla hopes to meet its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 cars per week in three months' time. Check out our analysis on how the manufacturing process is being transformed by technology, from product R&D to labor augmentation. Read about it.
- 2: This week, two AI companies raised $100M+ rounds of financing: China-based SenseTime, which provides AI-powered recognition software, raised $600M in Series C financing from Alibaba Group, Suning Commerce Group, and Temasek Holdings; Checkr, which uses AI for background checks, raised $100M led by T. Rowe Price. Check out our Artificial Intelligence Deals Tracker to see where else AI is heating up, from healthcare to fintech.
- 29: The number of early- to mid-stage high-momentum cybersecurity companies featured in our latest 2018 Cyber Defenders Report. We dig into the 14 categories — from fraud hunters to dark web intelligence — shaping cybersecurity innovation in 2018, and the startups that are best-positioned to transform the space. Get the report.
- 60%: Open MIC, a nonprofit advocacy group that works with institutional investors, has openly called for Mark Zuckerberg “to resign or be fired” from Facebook. Zuckerberg currently holds the CEO and Chairman of the Board titles at the company, and Open Mic believes “it’s time for him to give up at least one, if not both, titles.” He also owns 60% of Facebook’s voting rights, so this move seems unlikely.
- 4.61%: British Airways owner IAG purchased a 4.61% stake in low-cost Norwegian Air. According to Bloomberg, the company is “considering making a full offer for the discount competitor.” Such an acquisition could value Norwegian at about $3B, including debt. We looked at where a handful of major airlines, from IAG to Jetblue, are placing their startup bets. Expert intelligence clients can access the analysis here.
- 4: The number of major US credit card companies that are doing away with signature requirements. American Express, Mastercard, and Discover are eliminating credit card signature requirements starting today, and Visa will be following suit later this month. With this initiative, it will still be up to stores to decide whether or not signatures will be required for purchases.
- $200M: Uber has acquired bike-sharing startup JUMP Bikes for a price tag close to $200M. At this value, it’s the company’s second largest purchase, following its $680M acquisition of self-driving truck startup Otto. We dug into Uber’s M&A history in our Uber Strategy Teardown to see where the ride-sharing giant is placing its bets.