Death of a startup. Snap's spectacles. Tesla expands.
The founder of India’s Stayzilla, which announced it would shut down after raising $33.5M, has written a blog post that details his company’s reasons for failure. It’s interesting and revealing for two reasons: 
  1. It shows how hard it is to build tech companies in large emerging markets.
  2. Reveals how easy it is to lose focus as a leader and chase shiny metrics that don’t actually mean anything or translate to a real business. 
Stayzilla failed because of a tough market for home-stays in a vast country with a relatively low internet penetration, but also because of straying too far from fundamentals.

"In the last 3–4 years, though, I can honestly state that somewhere I lost my path. I started treasuring [Gross Merchandise Value], room-nights and other ‘vanity’ metrics instead of the fundamentals of cash flow and working capital."

Yogendra Vasupal’s words are worth thinking about for founders and executives awash in data, acronyms, and metrics that can steer you straight into the woods. See This Week In Data below for the blurb and more detail on Stayzilla.


Have a great weekend. 


P.S. We're identifying the world's top VCs in partnership with the New York Times. Today is the last day to enter your portfolio and board of directors data to the CB Insights Editor. Submit your information here.


This week in data:
  • 107: The number of new corporate VC funds that made their first investment in 2016, nearly 20 more than what was seen in 2015. New funds included JetBlue Technology Ventures and the Sony Innovation Fund. Read about global CVC investors and trends in our recently released 2016 Global Corporate Venture Capital report.

  • $129: The cost of Snap’s spectacles, camera-laden sunglasses for video, which are now being sold online to the general public. In light of the initial release of the device through pop-up vending machines across the country, we analyzed Snap’s patent activity in wearables, computer vision, video streaming, and more. There appears to be signs of a change in emphasis, away from a focus on app UX/UI and curation technologies, and toward wearables (Spectacles), as well as facial and object recognition tech.

  • $9.41M: This week, UK electric vehicle charging company POD Point raised $9.41M in Series C funding from investors including Barclays Capital and Draper Esprit. We looked at investment activity into startups working on vehicle electrification since 2010. We’ll also be diving into financing trends and active investors in the space on Tuesday, February 8th. Sign up for the briefing here.
  • 50+: Since 2014, over 50 financial services firms or their strategic investment arms have invested in a bitcoin or blockchain-specific startup, according to our updated research from this week. Circle Internet Financial, Coinbase, Ripple, BitFury Group, Blockstream, Digital Asset Holdings, and Chain have received nearly $625M in funding and are all listed among the top ten most well-funded bitcoin and blockchain companies; all count a significant number of financial services investors.

  • $33.5M: India’s Stayzilla has announced it will halt operations Feb. 28. The Indian home-sharing site had raised $33.5M from investors including two venture firms, Nexus Venture Partners and Matrix Partners India. In a post, the CEO and founder admitted a failure to focus on hard metrics, as well as the tremendous cost of recruiting hosts and educating the internet market in India on the concept of booking home-stays online. See 204 other startup postmortems in our post on why startups fail.
  • 2x: Tesla announced its plans to double the number of Supercharger locations — dedicated and branded charging stations for its electric vehicles — in North America in 2017. The company currently has 805 Supercharger stations with 5,159 Superchargers across the world. We previously dug into Tesla’s patent activity and saw many patents related to energy and energy storage and battery tech.
  • $500M: This week, online personal finance company Social Finance (SoFi) raised $500M in Series F financing. Investors in the round included GPI Capital, Silver Lake, and SoftBank Group.
  • 38,000: California alone loses the equivalent of 38,000 American football fields (48,500 soccer pitches for those of you outside the United States) in farmland every year to urban and exurban development. Rob Hayes of First Round Capital mentioned the increasing expense of farmland in explaining his backing of Bowery Farming, a New York-based indoor farming startup. Bowery raised a $6.3M seed round from investors including First Round, BoxGroup, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and star chef Tom Colicchio.
  • $6.3M: Clinc, developers of an AI-powered personal assistant, raised a $6.3M Series A round from investors including Hyde Park Ventures and Drive Capital. Here is a list of 41 startups bringing AI to fintech, including a host of startups providing AI assistants/bots.

  • 10,000: The number of skills Amazon’s Alexa hit this week, increasing from just 1,000 in June and 7,000 last month. The virtual assistant which powers the Echo device and others was a topic of discussion during our Innovation Summit. The panel on voice as the next big platform featured Arthur Johnson of Twilio and Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Venture Partners. You can see the panel videos and download all the presentations from the Innovation Summit here.
  • 14,000: This week, autonomous car developer Waymo (Google's subsidiary) announced its decision to take legal action against Otto and its parent company Uber for "misappropriating Waymo trade secrets and infringing on [its] patents." Waymo discovered that a former employee downloaded over 14,000 confidential and proprietary design files, including designs of Waymo's LiDAR and circuit board. We previously looked at Google's focus on autonomous vehicles in our Google Strategy Teardown.
  • 42%: A new research paper released this week applies machine learning to a specific societal problem, whether defendants awaiting trial should be kept in jail or allowed to go home. The study’s results showed that US jail populations could potentially be reduced by 42% without any increase in crime, if algorithms rather than human judges were making the decision. The researchers included computer scientists from Cornell and Stanford.
Mosaic Momentum Alerts

These startups saw the biggest uptick in their Mosaic momentum scores in the last week. 

The CB Insights Mosaic algorithm is a National Science Foundation-backed score that tracks the health of private companies using public data.
1. Sift Science+490
Sift Science provides real-time machine learning fraud prevention solutions for online businesses.

2. Upserve+290
Upserve, formerly Swipely, is a smart restaurant management assistant that offers guidance with managing guests, staff, marketing, finances, and the menu.

3. ViewPost+270
ViewPost, formerly Invoice Exchange, gives businesses the ability to exchange electronic invoices and payments with other businesses through a single, secure connection.

4. Automated Insights+250
Automated Insights (Ai) transforms data into written reports with the depth of analysis, personality, and variability of a human writer.

5. EverFi+230
EverFi is an ed tech company focused on teaching, assessing, badging, and certifying students in critical skills.

6. DiscoverOrg+200 
DiscoverOrg is a sales and marketing intelligence tool used by technology vendors, staffing companies, and consultants.

7. Datadog+170
Datadog collects data from servers, databases, applications, tools, and services to present a unified view of a company's infrastructure.

8. Mightybell+160
Mightybell provides a way for people to define and share an organized series of step-by-step, day-by-day "actions" grouped together as "experiences" around a topic or goal for others to do.

9. Movable Ink+160
Movable Ink provides an end-to-end contextual marketing engine to automate, optimize, and personalize email campaigns.

10. Flatiron Health+150
Flatiron Health is a healthcare technology company and operator of the OncologyCloud platform.
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