Winner's circle. Final showdown. Opioids in earnings calls.

To a fact-based 2018

Hi there,

One of my favorite responses to the newsletter of 2017 came right at the end of the year on Friday.

If you'd also like to curse and yell at us, join 376,000+ others and get in line here.

BTW, our first webinar of the year will be the recording of this conversation.

Happy new year!

Winner winner

We dug into the strategies behind 9 of the biggest direct-to-consumer success stories, including products like Casper mattresses, Everlane T-shirts, and Harry's razors.

Our analysis identified how these once-small startups set themselves apart in design, launch, customer experience, and marketing to achieve their enormous growth, from avoiding "sneaker feature creep" to creating viral infographics.

An illusion of truth

In a conversation about ICOs, Fred Wilson (the #11 VC in our rankings with the New York Times) commented that regulating away risk regulates away opportunity.

He follows it up with a comment that this type of over-regulation has kept small investors (I'll assume he means individuals) out of startups and given most of the gains to VCs.

Fred and his firm, Union Square Ventures, are off-the-charts good VCs. He is also a straight-talker, as evidenced by one of the funniest moments at our Future of Fintech conference when he made fun of corporations blindly jumping onto the blockchain bandwagon.

But this comment that individual investors have lost out to VCs is one I've seen many smart people in tech say with no empirical evidence behind it. And then others parrot the influencers, blindly creating an illusion of truth. Basically, enough influential folks say it that people just believe it is true.

The reality is even most VCs don't make money for their investors (their LPs) on their investments (and most VCs get fat on management fees). So I'm unsure how individuals would do better than the pros here? Has anyone actually ever empirically shown this? (If not, it's probably something we'll do but don't want to reinvent the wheel.)

The added reality is that individual investors are not going to see the dealflow that Union Square Ventures or Sequoia Capital or A16Z see as those firms simply fish in a better pond. And even if they did, getting into those deals is a very insider game.

So if you've seen any evidence either way on this claim by Fred, we'd love to see it.

Last chance

Today is your last chance to vote in our bracket, which asks, what is the best company to invest in and hold for 10 years? 

From 64 original contenders — ranging from Starbucks and Nordstrom to Tesla and Alphabet — we're down to the final two, in a battle of e-commerce giants: Alibaba vs. Amazon. 

Cast your vote now.

Drug discussion

With drug overdose deaths at record highs, opioids are on the minds of public company execs. We analyzed this trend, looking at opioid mentions in public company earnings calls over the past 10 years. 

Industrial investors

We mapped out top corporates' bets in industrial 3D printing. GE leads the pack, with 6 equity investments and 3 acquisitions in the space since 2013. 


The Industry Standard

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

Forbes. Pamela Ambler (@pamambler) writes about Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi's potential IPO and cites CB insights Chinese unicorn data

HuffPost. Jamal Simmons (@JamalSimmons) reports on the current lack of diversity in tech and cites CB Insights data.  

South China Morning Post. Sarah Dai (@sarah_dai) on price competition among Chinese ride-hailing companies, with a reference to CB Insights valuation data. 

I love you.


P.S. On Thursday, we're diving into the consumerization of healthcare, looking at the future of urgent care, retail care, telemedicine, and more. Join us for the briefing.

The Blurb

A curated mix of articles worth sharing.

"We were all wrong." Rick Webb (@RickWebb) on how the internet today is a far cry from the force for good that the "Internet utopians" of the 90s/00s foretold.  
NewCo Shift

Tomorrowland. Diana Budds (@DianaBudds) on the trends shaping the future of urban design, from roads for automated cars to augmented reality in public spaces.
FastCo Design

Future proof? Sushma UN (@sushmaun) on the Indian tech jobs that won't disappear in 2018, despite layoffs and hiring freezes in the Indian IT sector at large. 

Out of this world. The 50-year-old Outer Space Treaty, which governs what countries are and are not allowed to do in space, may now hinder entrepreneurs seeking extrateresstrial opportunities. 
NY Times 

Bird's eye view. Lauren Barack (@llauren) looks at new ways businesses are using drones. 

The worst job in tech. Lauren Weber (@laurenweberWSJ) and Deepa Seetharaman (@dseetharaman) on the content moderators who keep violent, disturbing, and explicit content off Facebook. 
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