Retail IoT market map. Medical device exits. Auto VC commentary.
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Kiss the ring

Hi there,

How to call BS on a guru or expert by Scott Berkun is featured in The Blurb today.

The advice in it holds quite well for evaluating startup advisors where the quality of advice is often poor and platitude-driven. I'm talking about life-changing advice like "make something users love" or the "only universal job description of a CEO is to make sure the company wins." (BTW, those are both pieces of real advice.)

My favorite piece of advice from Berkun on how to identify a BS'ing advisor from the post is: 

"Someone who never admits they are wrong is dangerous."

So true.

While you were shopping

We identified over 40 IoT startups with products aimed specifically at retail. The companies in our market map span across 9 categories, from inventory tracking to service robots to smart dressing rooms, and more.

The messiah is in the building

In the October 10th issue of The New Yorker, there is a profile of Sam Altman, the leader of uber-accelerator Y Combinator. (Here's our prior data on YC including 13 YC alumni worth > $50B and our more detailed YC teardown.)

The article is featured in The Blurb. If it's the result of YC or Altman's PR firm, they deserve a massive raise.

Also, if there was a hubris meter, Altman would break it.

But if you want to learn from the article, it also offers something of a playbook on how to develop/structure a narrative that the media loves. Here are some of the components:

Comparisons to Steve Jobs - Want to be perceived as someone worth paying attention to? Get someone else folks know to put you in the same light as Steve Jobs and voila. Note: Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos comparisons would prob work well here too.

Eclectic tastes/ideas - For example "small amounts of radiation are actually good for you" or having a patch of land in Big Sur with "guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, gas masks from the Israeli Defense Force" should the apocalypse arrive. These indicate edginess and someone who thinks differently and is interesting. Perfect.

Social awkwardness / hyper intellect - Does he have Asperger's or just Asperger-like tendencies? He thinks so quickly that others have to speed up how they talk "until they sound like chipmunks." Yes.

Bold proclamations / happy to talk isht - YC could be bigger than Google in 10 years. And via its continuity fund, it will be a better investor than Sequoia Capital. Check.

Unlimited ambition - Altman is setting out to change biotech, energy via nuclear fusion and fission, artificial intelligence, robotics, income inequality, and more, beyond the typical software startups that YC knows best. This is the "change the world" narrative on steroids.

Unlimited ambition^2 - To really step up the ambition, YC will also save democracy. Per Altman, “Democracy only works in a growing economy. Without a return to economic growth, the democratic experiment will fail. And I have to think that YC is hugely important to that growth.”

It's undoubtedly a coup for Altman and YC to get such a profile. So props to them on that.

Candidly, I'm surprised that Paul Graham who started/built YC and whose startup essays are phenomenal didn't see this type of profile. I'm also surprised that YC, which used to be about its companies when under PG, has turned into a personal branding vehicle for Altman. I thought this comment from Hacker News commenter Denzel nicely captured my skepticism.

But again, if you're trying to figure out the founder narrative that will get folks interested in what you do before you have real results to point to, this piece on YC and Altman offers a master class in how to do it.

Bill of health

The medical device industry has already reached a record high in M&A activity this year, though IPOs are down from last year. We look at how medical device exits have trended, as well as the largest exits and top acquirers since 2012.

Tic tac you don't stop

First, there were Skittles and then there were Tic Tacs. Who'd have thought candy would feature so prominently in the US presidential election? 

Interestingly, when digging into CB Insights, we see that interest into the candy & snack food category has climbed steadily since 2009 (with $2B+ invested in private companies in the space since 2009). Here's a quick screen you can run to see the companies, investors, and trends in the candy & snack food area.

When I see a data platform as awesome and beautiful as CB Insights, sometimes, I just start kissing it. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. Don't even wait.

Talk auto to me

To understand sentiment around the suddenly-dynamic auto tech space, we gathered 15 perspectives, from Silicon Valley investors and startup founders to regulators and big auto executives. 

No loose screws

We identified 31 startups working in construction tech and categorized them into a market map spanning 7 key emerging categories such as analytics and frontier tech applications.

The Industry Standard

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

Business of Fashion. Kate Abnett examines why fashion unicorns have become an "endangered species" and references data from our Downround Tracker

Samsung Insights. Phil Britt on innovation by fintech firms with a mention of CB Insights data on fintech investment.

Vator News. Steven Loeb (@stegrelo) dives into Munchery's new corporate lunch service and cites CB Insights data on funding to the food delivery space.

Financial Times. Kadhim Shubber (@kadhimshubber) digs into the fintech scene in the UAE and refers to CB Insights data on global fintech investment.

Happy Monday.

I love you.


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Medical device startups seeing record M&A

The most active acquirer in the medical device industry was Medtronic with 8 acquisitions since 2012. Check out the chart and tables.
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The IoT in retail market map

The startups in this market map have raised $900M in aggregate to bring IoT into retail. See the market map.
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15 investors and corporate execs sound off on auto tech disruption

With expectations rising around the promise of driverless vehicles, 15 investors and executives sound off on the future of mobility and the auto industry. Check it out.
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31 tech startups attacking the construction industry

The construction tech industry spans emerging categories like data analytics, marketplaces, and collaboration software, among other categories. See the list.
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The Blurb

A curated mix of articles on private companies, venture capital, emerging industries, and innovation.

How to Call BS on a Guru or Expert. An oldie but goodie by Scott Berkun (@berkun) with some simple rules on how to gauge if a guru/expert is legit or not.
Scott Berkun

Sam Altman's Manifest Destiny. Tad Friend (@tadfriend) of The New Yorker asks if the head of Y Combinator is trying to change the world or trying to take over Silicon Valley.
The New Yorker

Why we like SaaS companies. Jay Levy (@zelkovavc) dives into the reasons he invests in SaaS companies and cites CB Insights data on VC-backed SaaS exits.

Lost diamonds. David Tran (@dtran320) shares his experience with growing up in poverty and his belief that the current system is failing underprivileged talent.
New Co Shift

Toasters and roller coasters. John Melas-Kyriazi (@jmelaskyriazi) on how hardware startups can build competitive barriers.

Accelerating innovation with leadership. Bill Gates (@billgates) shares his thoughts on what it takes to accelerate innovation.
LinkedIn Pulse

As tech trickles in, medicine is about to hit warp speed. Drew Prindle (@gonzotorpedo) digs into how technology has reshaped medicine over the course of the past decade and what the future holds.
Digital Trends

Liquid assets. Sophie Elmhirst (@sophieelmhirst) on how the business of bottled water turned into a multibillion-dollar business.
The Guardian
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