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Latest VC trends. How we drink now. The micromobility craze.

Hold on to your ponchos

Hola, 

Not so long ago, people were tweeting out images of how out of control China’s bike-sharing services had grown. Bikes littered sidewalks and piled up everywhere. The horror.

Oh right, those Chinese cities are so chaotic — regulation can be so lax. Notice how in San Francisco everything is so much more orderly these days. 



Convenience or public nuisance, scooters are in a land grab moment. Lime became a unicorn this week (see This Week in Data below). 


We covered all of this in our Disrupting the Car webinar: scooters/e-bikes, flying cars, car-sharing, and how companies like Uber and Lyft have quite suddenly shifted from being car-oriented transportation networks to embracing bikes and scooters as well.

Uber's black cars seem so quaint all of a sudden.


Slump schmump

How is US venture capital doing? Just fine, thank you. It wasn’t too long ago that hands were wringing over a slump in VC and the possible end of the “unicorn era.”

But it turned out to be just a blip. Deals and dollars have roared back. The US market has created 4+ new unicorns in each of the last five quarters.

Read PwC and CB Insights' new Venture Capital Funding Report for more data, including the 3x increase in quarterly mega-deals of over $100M+ since late 2016 and the massive run-up in dollars to artificial intelligence startups.




Bottoms up

Startups are working to make Happy Hour even happier with craft spirits, cannabis-infused beverages, subscription services, anti-hangover solutions, and more. 

We rounded up 50+ companies that are changing the way we get our drink on. Check them out here.





Much more than soybeans

The trade war has gone nuclear. CEOs are freaking out. Mentions of tariffs have exploded on earnings calls. Alibaba execs and Harley Davidson leaders have said they will eat some of the cost of the tariffs rather than raise prices on motorcycle buyers.



Meanwhile, thousands of other imported goods will become more expensive in the US when a new round of proposed tariffs take effect (see This Week in Data below). Some items on the list: linoleum flooring, oxygen tanks, cashews, imported human hair, and plastic ponchos.


The new ride-hailing?

Investors are driving up bike- and scooter-sharing company valuations at unprecedented rates as the companies tackle last-mile transportation.

Four unicorns have emerged in the space since 2016, suggesting that micromobility could be as disruptive as ride-hailing. We take a look at the funding history and investors betting on bike- and scooter-sharing.





Have a great rest of the week.

Marcelo
@ballve

P.S. We're hiring. If you're happy, helpful, humble, and hungry, we'd love to chat.

This week in data:

  • $200B more: This week, Trump announced he was imposing another round of tariffs on China, on up to $200B of the country’s goods. As new tariffs pit the US against Mexico, Canada, China, and more, execs are taking note: mentions of “tariffs” in earnings calls reached an all-time high last quarter. We dug into what executives from companies ranging from Alibaba to Citigroup to Schnitzer Steel had to say about the ongoing tariff wars, and whether they expect to benefit from or be hurt by these policies. Check it out.
     
  • 5 unicorns: Five companies joined our unicorn list this week, each in a different industry. Bitmain Technologies ($12B valuation) develops bitcoin miners using its proprietary chip technology; Toast ($1.4B) offers an all-in-one restaurant management system; bike and e-scooter sharing startup Lime ($1.1B) follows on the heels of other newly minted mobility unicorns Hellobike and Bird Rides; MediaMath ($1B) offers a marketing operating system; and Pony.ai ($1B) develops AI solutions in robotics for autonomous driving. Four of these companies are US-based. For context, there were 6 unicorns minted in the US in all of Q2’18, according to our VC report with PwC.
     
  • 10 years: Former Apple engineer Xiaolang Zhang was arrested at San Jose airport on Saturday for allegedly stealing IP related to Apple’s self-driving car project, Project Titan. Zhang was about to fly to China to work for Xiaopeng Motors, which is making connected electric cars. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in jail and a $250K fine. Read more about Apple’s secretive automotive initiative in our Apple Strategy Teardown.


     
  • $10 cough drop: It’s no secret that hospital expenses in the US are reaching astronomical prices — as evidenced by things like this hospital-issued Halls brand cough drop, which has a price tag of $10 per drop. (For reference, you can buy a bag of 30 for just $2.59 from Walgreens.) The future of the pharmacy supply chain and accessibility of medications is one topic we’ll cover in our upcoming briefing on Amazon’s Strategy in Healthcare. Sign up for it here.
     
  • $655M: The Overwatch League playoffs will be aired on ESPN and Disney XD, per an announcement made by Activision Blizzard earlier this week. The Overwatch League is the first true city-based league for a competitive video game, with contending teams like the Dallas Fuel and San Francisco Shock. The announcement goes to show how rapidly the esports space is growing: sponsorship revenue and ad spending are expected to reach $655M and $224M respectively by 2020. One major emerging player in the gaming space has been Microsoft, which has acquired more gaming companies in the past couple months than it has over the last 5 years. Read about it here


     
  • 19.7B: Over the next 10 years, debit card payment volumes are projected to increase by 50% to reach 19.7B payments. With fintechs like Venmo, Paypal, and SoFi rolling out debit cards in coming months, and Square already releasing its Square Cash Card, debit cards are certainly a hot product. Check out what incumbents AmEx, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa have to say about the payments space in our new Payments Earnings Transcripts Analysis.


     
  • 4 months: A new study from Boston College finds that 56% of cryptocurrency startups that raise money through token sales die within four months of their initial coin offerings. According to Leonard Kostovetsky, one of the researchers who led the study, new cryptocurrencies see the strongest return in the first month, but usually can’t outperform other cryptocurrencies by month 3. We recently did a deep dive into blockchain technology, including trends in tokens and cryptoassets. Get the slides and recording here.
     
  • £50,000: FIFA is fining the Football Association more than £50,000 over English players wearing unauthorized socks. Dele Alli, Eric Dier, and Raheem Sterling have been wearing Trusox rather than their official Nike socks, ignoring FIFA warnings to stop doing so. The fine is for “breaching media and marketing regulations and the FIFA equipment regulations.”
One more thing...
 

Chinese entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has developed a robot that carries a potted plant on its back and moves it towards or away from sunlight as needed.

Tianqi made the bot by modifying the design of HEXA, the robot made by his company Vincross. The idea was reportedly inspired by a dead potted sunflower that Tianqi saw at an exhibition.


When the robot detects that the plant needs water, it dances and stomps to alert its human owner. It can also "play" with the owner if the owner taps its shell.

Tianqi says that plants "have the fewest degrees of freedom among all the creatures" in the world, and he hopes this bot will change that.

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