450k of our closest friends. Alleged unicorn scarcity. Retail robots in stores. 

The land of the unicorns

Hi there,

This week, we'll hit 450,000 on the newsletter (probably tonight). Thank you.

So let's start with a poll. 

Answer this simple question on where the biggest startup tech companies will come from in the next decade. Click here to vote.

Down on the bayou

Turns out, startups don’t need to be located in Silicon Valley or NYC to get funding. Companies like Magic Leap in Florida and OneWeb in Virginia have raised over $2B.

We identified the most well-funded tech startups in each US state. Check it out.

Low unicorn birth rate?

Recent chatter has suggested that unicorns are a thing of the past, but the data says otherwise. 

The number of new unicorns per quarter decreased over the past year, but Q4'17 and Q1'18 produced 16 each — more than most quarters since 2013. 

And the numbers are even higher when companies that raised funding through cryptoassets or token financing are included. We take a look at why the crypto unicorn should — or should not — be included in the coveted $1B valuation club.  

Mo' mistakes

In December 2014, I wrote a post entitled "54 Mistakes of a Startup CEO."

At the time, we were under 25 people. 

We're now nearly 200.

While the mistakes never end, the nature of the mistakes does change a bit as you scale up. 

At the same time, as I look back at those mistakes, some of the lessons learned when the company had 25 people remain. I also sadly realized that I didn't fix all those issues from 3.5 years ago.

The two biggest challenges that I continue to grapple with are:

  • communication
  • maintaining culture

Communication is definitely tougher with size. 

At 25 people, everyone kind of knows what is going on through osmosis. It's not perfect, but it sort of works.

You also have a team that joined a riskier, pretty early-stage company, so to some extent, the folks who signed up expect it.

At 200, communication is critical.  

I struggle with communication on three fronts: frequency, format, and granularity. 

Doing a regular one-hour all-hands seems expensive and unproductive, especially given there is no way everyone will attend, and the format is not great for creating an understanding of topics, opportunities, and challenges the company faces. It feels superficial/surface-level. 

Emails sort of work, but you lose tone there. I probably should explore a recorded online briefing next.

And then there is deciding what to share. If we start talking CAC and LTV, some folks love it and some are bored. There is no perfect set of content that everyone will find beneficial, interesting, and/or useful.

To some extent, this is a high class problem (it's much better than not scaling) — but it is important we figure it out, especially as this problem likely only gets worse as we move to 500 or 1000 people.

I'll dig into my concerns on maintaining culture in the next newsletter.

Old dogs, new tricks

Retail companies are turning to AI, with companies like Walmart using the tech for shelf-scanning robots to manage inventory. 

We take a look at how AI is impacting all parts of the retail chain, from heavy lifting in the warehouse to chatbots online. 

Check us out

Friday's client-only note covered meal kit valuation multiples, Netlix domination, the dog walking ecosystem (wtf), and more. If you're a client and you missed it, check it out here. You can view all notes here.

But what is it?

Gene-editing technology known as CRISPR has far-reaching applications, from creating designer babies to saving endangered crops. 

We explain this technology and look into potential uses and controversies in our What Is CRISPR? analysis. This Thursday, you can tune into our 15-minute CRISPR flash webinar. Sign up here.

3 days

The Future of Fintech kicks off on June 19, which gives you 21 days to buy tickets and 3 days to pay at current prices. Ticket prices go up June 1.

You won’t want to miss:

  • Partying at NYC’s iconic Rockefeller Center during the Welcome Reception

  • Day 1: Adena Friedman, CEO of Nasdaq; Mick Mulvaney, Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Joe Lubin, Co-Founder of Ethereum, and more.

  • Day 2: Sheila Bair, Former FDIC Chair; Kenneth Lin, CEO of Credit Karma; Mario Schlosser, CEO of Oscar, and more.

We have less than 100 tickets — get 'em before they go. Save $500 by using the code 3days.

The Industry Standard

CB Insights data is the most trusted by those in the industry and the media. A few recent hits.

Bloomberg. Yoolim Lee (@yoolimleenews) reports that Indonesian ride-hailing unicorn Go-Jek will expand into Southeast Asia and cites CB Insights data.

Forbes. Gerri Detweiler lists the newsletters that will make you a better entrepreneur and includes the CBI newsletter.

CNBC. Jillian D’Onfro (@jillianiles) discusses why big US tech investors are worried about China tech startups and cites CB Insights’ AI trends report.

I love you.


P.S. Refer new subscribers using our CB Insiders rewards program and you can win free CB Insights swag. 

The Blurb

A curated mix of articles worth sharing.

Spinning the story. Fitness company SoulCycle cancelled its IPO plans though the company cited market conditions, executive turmoil may point to the real cause of staying private.

Unlocked. Apple plans to modify the iPhone chip used for Apple Pay to allow phones to unlock doors or smart locks.

Don’t track me. Relying too heavily on performance metrics in the workplace runs the risk of decreased innovation, short-termism, and overall lower performance among employees.
Fast Company

Man on the moon. Jeff Bezos wants us to go to the moon, proposing a partnership between his aerospace company Blue Origin and NASA to see lunar manufacturing and habitation become a reality within decades.     

Pack up your things and go. Packaged goods companies are mixing up their C-suites to address the new trends in the food and beverage industry.  
Wall Street Journal

Panic button. Uber is testing its 911 in-app calling feature in the US in hopes to bolster safety for riders.
The Verge
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