Blockchain explainer. AI 100. Game Changers.


This week, a game called "CryptoKitties" took the internet by storm. It’s kind of like Pokemon but for cats.

You collect cute virtual kitties and can even combine two and breed a new one that is different from all other CryptoKitties.

The special sauce here is that this game is built on top of blockchain technology.

BTW, if you still do the blank stare and head-nodding thing every time someone says “blockchain,” read our explainer here.

This CryptoKitty thing may sound silly, but digital collectibles show in an intuitive way why blockchains can be powerful for tracking assets on a tamper-proof ledger, without intermediaries.

Now, imagine that same description above, but applied to unique records for container shipments instead of CryptoKitties. Or to individual financial derivatives contracts. That's why every industry is hyping blockchain. 

So yes, the same basic tech that powers CryptoKitties might one day be the rails for trillion-dollar derivatives markets and global trade, if blockchain boosters are right.

Meanwhile, as you’ll see below in This Week In Data, CryptoKitties (each one is different!) are trading like crazy with tens of thousands of transactions already completed, even as prices shoot up.

In fact, given the huge amount of trolls and psychos on the internet, you’re almost complicit in inhumane treatment of CryptoKitties if you don’t immediately go and buy a few. 

Have a great weekend.


This week in data:
  • 8.9 years: We just released our 6th annual Tech IPO Pipeline Report, which looks at 355 of the most promising and highly-valued private companies in the United States. The median time between first funding and IPO for US VC-backed tech companies that went public in 2017 YTD was 8.9 years.

  • 65%: Alibaba is leading SpaceX with 65% of the vote in Round 4 of our bracket to determine the best company to invest in and hold for 10 years. Its down to the Elite 8, with other matchups between Apple & Netflix, Amazon & Facebook, and Alphabet & Baidu. Polls close this Sunday, so make sure to cast your votes here

  • $450M: The amount raised from SoftBank Group by real estate tech unicorn Compass in a second Series E tranche. The round raised the unicorn’s valuation to $2.2, up from the $1.8B seen just last month. Compass is among the 10 most well-funded VC-backed real estate tech startups, with $743M in total disclosed funding.
  • $220K: This week, Apple acquired Oakland, California-based Pop Up Archive, which builds tools to transcribe, organize, and search audio files. The company previously raised $220K from investors including 500 Accelerator and FundersClub, among others. We recently dug into Apple’s top acquisitions. Its $3B acquisition of Beats Electronics in 2014 was far and away its largest deal.

  • 64.7%: In First Round’s 2017 State of Startups report, the firm surveyed 869 venture-backed startup founders on various topics. Among the results, AR/VR was ranked as the most overhyped technology trend: 64.7% of the participants said it was overhyped and 9.5% said it was underhyped — the rest remained neutral. Wearables was a close second, with 63.6% of the vote as being overhyped. Additionally, 56.7% said agtech was the most underhyped trend.
  • 60: The number of companies from the 2017 Artificial Intelligence 100 that have raised additional financing or have been acquired in the last 11 months. Next week, we reveal the 2018 AI 100 at the A-ha! Conference. We expect big things. Join us at A-ha! using the code AI100 here to get $500 off through December 10th. 

  • 80,000+: CryptoKitties, a blockchain-based game centered around collecting and breeding digital cats, is one of the latest fads to hit the cryptocurrency world. As of this morning, there have been 80,000+ sales amounting to $10.5M. Some CryptoKitties are selling for as much as $114K. According to CoinDesk, the token sale for blockchain platform SophiaTX was delayed due to e-pets “[clogging] up the blockchain.”
  • $18,000: On a related note, the largest cryptocurrecy, Bitcoin, continues to reach new highs. This week, it passed the $18,000 mark on some Korean exchanges. Earlier today, it was trading above $16,000. Just last week, it was trading above $11,000. Check out our blockchain explainer for a more detailed explanation of Bitcoin, Ethereum, ICOs, and all things blockchain. You can also join us for an upcoming discussion around the topic here

  • $203M: Boston-based crop technology startup Indigo Agriculture raised an additional $47M from the Investment Corporation of Dubai, to close its Series D round at $203M. Indigo Agriculture is featured in our 2018 Game Changers report along with 29 other startups with world-changing potential. 

  • 700%: The most expensive house for sale in Silicon Valley is a $48M estate. The house was purchased for $6.1M back in 2008, and was listed on the market this July for $48M — up nearly 700% since it was last sold nearly 10 years ago. The “circa-1915 home sits on seven acres with a private lake and horse stables.” 
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