Trailblazin' startups. First-ever Top Corporate VCs list. Google for your health.

Fo shizzle my nizzle


The investment firm Tiger Global Management is a weighty name on Wall Street known for its bets on both publicly-traded companies and startups.

Snoop Dogg is a rapper from Southern California whose first hit was titled “Gin and Juice” and once claimed to smoke 80 blunts a day.  

Snoop and Tiger are now biz partners thanks to the booming cannabis industry.

This week, Tiger Global led a $17M investment in Green Bits, a payments system for the marijuana industry. Snoop’s VC firm Casa Verde Capital was also part of the round.

With this bet, Tiger joins some name-brand VCs like Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Founders Fund, which have also made bets on cannabis startups.

The deal’s timing was curious. Tomorrow is April 20th or 4/20, the day known to marijuana enthusiasts as the day to celebrate weed (for example, Vice the TV channel runs programming called “Weed Week”). So it seems like Green Bits and its backers are exploiting the moment to gain PR tailwinds.

Nothing wrong with that — we’re doing the same.

Our 2nd annual Marijuana Trailblazers report looks at Green Bits and many other trends and high-momentum companies shaping the legal cannabis industry. We dig into areas from healthcare to compliance to data & insights.

Paging Dr. Google

Google has never seen itself as just a search and advertising company. Now it's turning its focus to healthcare, applying AI to disease detection, diagnosis, and treatment. 

Our new deep dive explores how Google plans to bring a tech transformation to the $3T industry. Check it out here.

For some eyes only

This week, we’ve written two client-only notes in lieu of our public newsletters. If you’re curious about yesterday’s note, you can view some of it here.

We covered:

  • Zillow’s pivot into home-flipping 
  • The space that Amazon’s leaving alone 
  • Why corporate innovation has the doldrums, and more

Clients can see the full note here.

All the way to the top

More than 180 new corporate venture capital firms invested in 2017. That's 66% growth over 2016. In response, we've assembled a list of the world's top 20 CVC firms for the first time. See the rankings here.


In the not-too-distant future, celebrities will be virtual. Designers will shape their appearance and their personalities will be generated by complex algorithms and as unpredictable as that of a Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, or Britney Spears.

Consider that this week, one virtual Instagram celebrity hacked the account of another computer-generated starlet (see This Week In Data, below).

As strange as it sounds, the feud between Lil Miquela and Bermuda and their respective fans is surely a view into what stardom will look like in the future. Virtual influencers are here.

Brands will come to sponsor virtual celebrities, and agents will profit from booking them in VR experiences and other forms of entertainment.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. On April 26, we'll be discussing fintech trends in 2018. Sign up here to join us. 

P.P.S. Going to Future of Fintech
Bring a colleague and take advantage of our pair tickets (only 14 left). Or save $500 off an individual ticket using code morecontent. Prices go up May 1.

This week in data:

  • 27: Google Ventures made 27 investments in healthcare companies last year, a 69% increase from the year before. The venture arm has been increasing its yearly healthcare investments since 2014. Our new Google in Healthcare report dives into how the tech giant plans to use AI to upend the $3T healthcare industry, from tackling diseases like diabetes and Parkinson’s to developing diagnostic tools for doctors and patients alike.

  • $17M: Green Bits, a retail management and compliance platform for legal cannabis retailers, raised $17M in Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Also participating was Casa Verde Capital, which previously invested $2.2M in seed financing to the company. Green Bits is one of 16 companies featured in our 2018 Marijuana Trailblazers Report, which covers trends to watch and startups that could help shape the future of legal cannabis. Make it your 4/20 holiday reading

  • $14M: Goldman Sachs acquired personal finance app Clarity Money this week. The company has raised $14M in total disclosed funding from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, RRE Ventures, and Citi Ventures, among others. We looked at 7 of the fastest-growing personal finance apps — from Robinhood to Stash — to understand the secrets to their success.

  • 100 million: In his annual shareholder letter, Jeff Bezos disclosed — for the first time ever — that the company has exceeded 100 million Amazon Prime members globally. Amazon reached the milestone 13 years after the launch of the service. According to the letter, “Amazon shipped more than five billion items with Prime worldwide [in 2017], and more new members joined Prime than in any previous year.” To learn more about the company’s strategic vision and investments, check out our Amazon Strategy Teardown.
  • $2B: London-based medical artificial intelligence firm BenevolentAI announced yesterday that it has raised $115M in funding, in one of the largest funding rounds in the AI pharmaceutical sector. The round valued the company at $2B. We previously highlighted BenevolentAI in our AI in Healthcare market map for clients.
  • $3,000: The daily rate that one of Palantir’s top clients paid for the company’s “forward-deployed” engineers, i.e. data scientists and programmers who embed themselves with clients in order to help them undertake data collection and mining. Palantir is a secretive company, but we dug into a new patent that sheds a little light on its methods.
  • 90%: Elon Musk’s tunneling & infrastructure company The Boring Company raised $113M in angel funding. Reports suggest Musk provided over 90% of the funds, with the rest coming from undisclosed investors. Tunneling/infrastructure is one of at least 8 industries being disrupted by Elon Musk and his companies. Read about 7 others — from energy to aerospace — here.

  • 90: Online real estate database Zillow announced it will begin buying and selling homes on its platform, beginning in test markets in Phoenix and Las Vegas. The company will focus on flipping houses, aiming to renovate and sell homes within 90 days.
  • <100: As tax day passed earlier this week, few Americans reported cryptocurrency holdings. Of the first 250,000 federal tax returns using Credit Karma’s tax preparation software, fewer than 100 taxpayers reflected cryptocurrency gains or losses. For a quick refresher on all things cryptocurrency, check out our explainer, What Is Blockchain Technology?

  • 1 million: The Instagram account of Lil Miquela, a computer-generated avatar, was hacked earlier this week. The virtual celebrity, who has 1 million followers, was taken offline for about a day. Miquela’s account was hacked by Bermuda — another computer-generated personality. Both accounts were reportedly created anonymously in 2016. The avatars appear to have differing political beliefs and are generating a ton of virtual drama.
  • 206,749,248: Over 200 million eggs are being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. Indiana-based Rose Acre Farms issued the recall following 22 reported cases of illnesses from the eggs. We previously dug into the complexity of recalls — and how blockchain technology could help transform food safety.
One more thing...

First came CryptoKitties, now comes EtherGoo. EtherGoo is a game that, like Cryptokitties, runs on the Ethereum blockchain.

Even though EtherGoo only launched this week, DappRadar reports it's already more popular than Cryptokitties in daily active users, as cited by Charles Weiler-Ulin.

Unlike CryptoKitties, which is about collecting/trading cute digital kitties, EtherGoo is an “idle game," which means you mainly click and do little else to earn in-game rewards — in this case, goo. EtherGoo is reported to be "the first competitive idle game" and "the first Ethereum based idle game."

In EtherGoo — if we understand it correctly — you click to buy characters like Intern Kitties, Graduate Gerbils, and Lab Rats. And you can steal goo from other characters and produce/stockpile your own.

The game was created by a pseudonymous programmer called MrBlobby. Given that the team behind CryptoKitties raised $12M from Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz recently, is MrBlobby the next recipient of an 8-digit check?
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