Hot, hot, hot!
The narrative that matters with AI is how AI is being used to augment human intelligence and capabilities.
This week we released our AI Deals Tracker data (our clients can access the full report and data in our Stories feature).
What it reveals is that AI-focused companies are getting boatloads of investment across industries, with healthcare in the lead and finance and retail also showing intense activity.
AI — machine learning, reinforcement learning, and other flavors — is a tool, and like the microprocessor or nuclear fission, it is best understood as a complement to human ingenuity. That doesn’t mean we don't need to protect against a Chernobyl of AI (to me, human fallibility and misuse of powerful tech is far more worrisome than any sentient AI).
But it’s time for the conversation to move beyond "AI vs. human" to "AI plus human."
BTW, in 1948 we were telling the same story. It’s an old one, but less interesting than what actually happened in the subsequent 70 years.
Meet me in the club, it's goin' down
Financial services companies are developing tech products and services aimed at transforming the consumer experience across everything from credit monitoring to personal finance.
Adoption is at an all-time high, and 20+ fintechs have entered the 1M+ customer club. We take a look at why this is happening, which products are gaining the most traction, and more. Check it out here.
Technology is transforming the ~$2.4T fashion sector faster than ever.
From sewing robots to VR mirrors in dressing rooms, we dive into how tech is automating, personalizing, and speeding up every aspect of fashion.
Read all about it here.
Where the wind blows
Offshore wind energy is getting more attention, as it's more reliable and capable of larger increases in energy production than onshore wind farms.
But building offshore wind turbines is labor-intensive and maintenance is costly. We take a look at 30+ startups working to address these challenges. Clients can see them all here.
I'm having a moment
Starting a software company became a lot cheaper and easier after Amazon Web Services launched in 2006, ushering in a new wave of seed-stage startups.
Now data aggregation and banking-as-a-service are making it significantly easier for companies to add banking services into existing apps and products. Is this banking's AWS moment? We dig in here.
Let's unpack that
Many Americans are financially stressed, largely because of debt, which now tops $13.2T from student loans, credit cards, mortgages, and more.
Now fintech startups are unbundling the paycheck to offer customers flexible access to their wages, creative solutions for tackling debt, and more choices to improve their financial health.
Expert Intelligence clients can read about it here.
Have a great rest of the week.
P.S. At last month's Future of Fintech conference, we had 40 startups present across 2 stages. One of the stages focused on early-stage AI companies and early-stage companies specializing in financial inclusion. If you weren't able to make it to the conference, you can check out a few of the presentations on our YouTube channel.
This week in data:
- +2 unicorns: Privacy platform OneTrust and short-term property rental startup Sonder became unicorns this week after financing rounds that brought their valuations above $1B. The total number of unicorns in the world now stands at 371 — see them all here.
- $34B: IBM closed its acquisition of open-source software developer Red Hat for $34B — the largest acquisition of a software company ever. IBM stated that it plans to use Red Hat to strengthen its hybrid multi-cloud services. Expert Intelligence clients can take a look at 95+ startups working in the multi-cloud ecosystem.
- 49%: Virgin Galactic will become the first space tourism company to be publicly traded after it agreed to merge with an already-listed shell company — allowing it to bypass the IPO process. Richard Branson’s space company raised $800M as part of the deal in exchange for a 49% stake.
- 20%: The growing popularity of alternative-protein products — such as those created by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods — has reportedly pushed up planned pea production in North America by 20%. A number of startups are using peas in their alternative protein offerings, as discussed in our report on the future of meat.
- 80+ years: The last Volkswagen Beetle is due to be produced in Mexico this week after a history spanning over 80 years. Meanwhile, BMW unveiled plans for another iconic car — the Mini Cooper — to be released in an electric version. Read more about how the big automakers are preparing for an electric future in our report: The Race For The Electric Car.
- 3,236 satellites: Amazon has applied to launch 3,236 satellites to deliver internet services as part of its “Project Kuiper” — a reference to a large disc of celestial objects at the edge of our solar system. The tech giant joins companies such as SpaceX and OneWeb in attempting to use a vast network of satellites to expand internet access. Expert Intelligence clients can read about 9 startups looking to connect the approximately 45% of the world currently lacking internet access.
- 210,000 years: A skull fragment found in Greece in the 1970s was dated to be 210,000 years old, according to a study published in Nature this week. The researchers stated that the skull is likely from an early Homo sapien and that its presence in Europe supports the possibility that early humans left Africa much earlier than previously thought, and in multiple waves.