Spooky stats. SoftBank investment tracker. WeWork's new home.


The great retail apocalypse of 2017 shows what happens to industries that don’t adapt. 

The bottom goes out of their industry, slowly at first — and then all at once. 

Some of the largest bankruptcies of 2017 have been retailers including Toys R’ Us, Payless, and Radio Shack.

There have been 6,700 store closings announced in the US in 2017, which is already more than in all of 2008 during the financial crisis. (See This Week in Data, below.)

The reasons driving this bloodbath can be summed up in two words: tech and Amazon. 

Consumers are simply becoming accustomed to on-demand, friction-free, no-hassle shopping experiences. Old-line retail incumbents are being overwhelmed by interrelated trends in retail tech, online shopping, and direct-to-consumer models.

And yet just months ago, the CEOs of two publicly-traded companies, Footlocker and Hibbett Sports, were still on earnings calls minimizing the threat from sneaker brands going straight to Amazon.

Good luck with that.


This week in data:
  • $2B: At the current rate of investment to VC-backed startups in Canada, full-year totals are on track to exceed $2B invested across more than 300 deals. Read about this and more in our Q3’17 Canada MoneyTree Report with PwC. Canadian VC-backed companies received $858M of total capital invested across 81 deals in Q3’17. On a quarterly basis, deals increased by 21% and dollars increased by 110% from Q2’17.  

  • $3B: SoftBank has seen valuations increase by a total of roughly $3B for companies it has invested in through its previously launched $93B Vision Fund, according to SoftBank Group chairman & CEO Masayoshi Son, speaking earlier this week at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia. The fund has earned about a 22% return on paper over the last 5 months, and has made a number of notable investments this year, including the $4.4B into WeWork and its Asian subsidiaries. For a look at the investments made by SoftBank and its Vision Fund, check out our SoftBank Investment Tracker — updated in real-time.

  • 5: Automated restaurant Eatsa announced it will be shutting down 5 of its nearly employee-free locations across New York, D.C., and Berkeley, California. In a post earlier this week, the company revealed it will shift focus towards enabling other restaurants to use the Eatsa platform. Two San Francisco locations will remain open so the company can “continue to test, iterate, and build out [its] retail brand.” According to our latest analysis of the automation landscape, nearly 4.3 million cooks and servers are at high risk of job displacement over the next 5 to 10 years.

  • 676,000 square feet: The footprint of the flagship building Lord & Taylor is selling in New York City to WeWork for $850M. The retailer has occupied the building since 1914, and will itself soon rent the bottoms floors, creating a smaller version of its once massive department store. As part of the deal, Rhone Capital, WeWork’s partner in this real estate joint venture, will invest $500M in Lord & Taylor’s parent company — the Hudson’s Bay Company — and will also lease space in some of Hudson’s Bay department stores. WeWork will use the New York building as its new headquarters.
  • 6,700: Since January 1st, 2017, various retailers have announced plans to shut down more than 6,700 stores across the United States. Chains include Walgreens, Kmart, Banana Republic, Bebe, and more. The number surpasses the high of 6,163 store closings seen amid the financial crisis in 2008.
  • 238: The number of location proposals Amazon has received for its second headquarters, HQ2. The company expects to invest over $5B in construction for its second North American location, which will lead to the creation of as many has “50,000 high-paying jobs.” According to Amazon’s RFP, the company prefers a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people, and has an initial building requirement of at least 500,000 sq. ft. In addition to the new location, Amazon has been on an M&A spree this year, beginning with its acquisition of in Q1’17. To highlight its activity, we analyzed Amazon’s top acquisitions in a timeline here.

  • 13%: The percentage gain in Amazon’s trading price today amid a big surge for tech stocks in the public markets. Amazon along with Google, Microsoft, Twitter and others saw their shares surge after reporting better-than-expected earnings numbers earlier in the week. The rising tide also lifted other tech stocks like Snapchat, Facebook, and Apple which have yet to report.
  • 8.8%: A new report found that only 8.8% of tokens launched through Initial Coin Offerings are still in use after the token sales, according to Bloomberg. Basically, this means that roughly 1/10 of projects have found traction after their coin sales. We dug into ICO trends in our Blockchain Investment Trends Report, as well as how ICO performance stacks up against equity funding.

  • $116M: The amount of money raised by cybersecurity company ForeScout Technologies, after selling 5.3M shares in the company's IPO today. ForeScout Technologies works with enterprises and government organizations to secure IoT devices. The company's previous backers include Accel Partners, ITOCHU Techno-solutions Corp., and Intel Capital, among others. FourScout Technologies is featured in our market map of 75+ cybersecurity startups protecting the future of connected enterprises and critical infrastructure.

  • 159: According to Arton Capital’s Passport Index, which ranks passports by their total visa-free score, Singapore ranks as the No. 1 passport in the world. In other words, a Singaporean passport holder has easy access to 159 countries, or can enter 159 countries without need for a visa. The country is followed by Germany in second (with access to 158 countries) and Sweden/South Korea in third (157 countries each). The United States has a passport rank of 6. We put together our own travel-related rankings and looked at the most well-funded travel tech startups around the world.

  • $1.56M: In the early 1920s, Albert Einstein went to Japan to deliver a series of lectures. While there, he received a telegram notifying him he had won the Nobel Prize. News spread, and while in Tokyo, a messenger arrived at his hotel room to make a delivery. Einstein did not have a tip to offer, but instead gave the messenger two of his writings, claiming their future value would be greater than any standard tip. One of the writings — a note on happiness — sold this week to an anonymous buyer for $1.56M (its opening price started at $2,000). The second note sold for $240,000.
  • 52%: The proportion of Americans who believe that places can be haunted by spirits, according to a new paranormal beliefs study by Chapman university. 35% of people surveyed believe that aliens visited Earth in ancient times, while 26% believe aliens visit us now. Participants were less convinced on Bigfoot, though, with only 16% expressing belief in the forest-dwelling creature.
  • 2,363 lbs: The record-breaking weight of the winning pumpkin at the 2017 Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay. The pumpkin, which belongs to retired firefighter Joe Holland, is the second-heaviest pumpkin on record.

  • $9.1B: the amount Americans are expected to spend on Halloween in 2017, according to the National Retail Federation. This year, the average US male will spend $96 and the average female will spend $77 on candy, decorations, and spooky costumes. 70% of people plan to hand out candy, while 48% plan on wearing a costume.
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