Top NY VC-backed exits. China's AI funding. A new unicorn.


Today, AI is about more than just tech. Politics are in play, too.

It’s about geopolitical dominance. It's fear over who has the better AI system.

As our AI Trends Report released this week showed, China is racing ahead in AI startup funding and patents.

The stakes are high.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy campaigned on the “missile gap” between the US and the Soviet Union. 

Today, governments will increasingly rate their gaps in terms of AI and cyber capabilities.

The new missile gap is a cyber gap. Just this week it was revealed that Russia was behind ransomware attacks in Europe that caused over $1B in losses.

The worlds of AI, cybersecurity, and traditional defense are merging.

Have a great weekend.


P.S. On February 27, we'll be diving into the state of autonomous vehicles and other mobility technologies. Save your spot at the briefing here.

This week in data:

  • 13: Our Top AI Trends to Watch Report covers 13 trends, from China's push to beat the US in AI dominance to automation accelerating in the white collar sector and more.

    Get the report here.
  • $2.1B: Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche announced yesterday that it will buy NYC-based Flatiron Health, which provides data for cancer research. Notably, Roche already owned a 12% stake in Flatiron, with the deal valued at a total of $2.1B. The deal marks the largest NY VC-backed exit on record, followed by Blue Apron’s $1.89B IPO in June 2017.

  • $5.78B: This week, Chinese home improvement and furniture company Easyhome raised $2.05B from investors including Alibaba Group, Yunfeng Capital, Sequoia Capital China, and JD Capital Management, among others. At a $5.78B valuation, the company is the latest to make it onto our real-time Unicorn Tracker.

  • $4.2B: Speaking of unicorns, grocery delivery app Instacart raised $200M in Series E financing, raising its valuation by 23% to $4.2B. Coatue Management and Glade Brook Capital participated in the round. The round comes just as Amazon announced two-hour delivery from Whole Foods last week. 
  • $750,000: Amazon Lending — which launched in 2011 —  has partnered with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. As reported by CNBC, the program makes loans of $1,000 to $750,000 and is available only to Amazon sellers. You can read more about Amazon’s initiatives in the fintech space in our 2018 Fintech Trends Report. Download it here.

  • $70,000: CoinPrism, a colored coins wallet for bitcoin, revealed that it is shutting down towards the end of March 2018. The company had previously raised $70,000 in total disclosed funding. For more on startup death, check out our list of 242 startup failure post-mortems.
  • 15%: On Tuesday, fast casual chain Chipotle announced that it would be poaching Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol to take up the mantle as its new chief executive. Investors responded favorably, with shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill spiking 15% on Wednesday. Still, Chipotle’s string of safety issues in recent years means that current stock prices still clock in some 64% below the stock’s all-time high in August 2015.
  • 95%: Membership-only retail warehouse chain Sam’s Club announced earlier this week that it would offer free shipping on 95% of its items for premium members, as well as narrow its membership tiers from 3 to 2. Sam’s Club is the latest in a string of retailers offering new delivery offerings to stay competitive in the age of Amazon Prime: Target recently announced it would offer same-day delivery through Shipt, which it acquired in December.

  • -94.5%: According to a regulatory filing released earlier this week, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has dumped 94.5% of its IBM shares, bringing its stake down to just 2.05M shares. Meanwhile, the company upped its Apple shares by 23.3% to 165.3 million. Our Apple Strategy Teardown dives into the tech giant’s future initiatives, from AI to autonomous vehicles to healthcare, to see where the company might be headed in the next few years.

  • 385M: Today is the lunar new year, kicking off the Year of the Dog. Notably, the Chinese new year marks the world’s biggest human migration, when an estimated 385 million people travel for the holiday. More than 6.5 million people are expected to travel overseas this year, with the average Chinese tourist spending about 9,500 yuan ($1500) on a lunar new year trip.
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