Future of retail. A Microsoft deep-dive. EV technology.

Gift yourself some insights


Lots of great research today, but first: For those of you at big corporations who have any budget left, we’d love to chat — subscription prices go up on January 1

Our annual Tech IPO Pipeline report is out and it is chock-full of surprising findings on tech, VC, and IPOs/M&A. 

Startups aren’t just being acquired by the likes of Google or Cisco. Of the 18 $1B+ acquisitions of tech startups in the last three years, a majority were by non-tech corporates like Walmart, Unilever, Allstate, and Roche. 

The increase in massive funding rounds has been bonkers. There has been an almost hockey-stick rise in the amount of $100M+ mega-rounds to startups in the US. This has driven the largest year in startup funding in the US since the dot-com boom. SoftBank alone has led $100M+ financings to 16 US companies in 2018. 

Unicorns are still stuck in the out door. And the unicorn lounge is getting crowded. The frothy atmosphere has meant more unicorns are being created — over 40 in 2018 alone in the US. But there are still relatively few big IPOs. 

For more detail, download the report here.

Material world

Imagine a future where retailers can customize clothes on demand, and food and groceries are delivered by autonomous vehicles.

Our latest NExTT report dives into the future of retail. Download the full report here to see the top 21 trends to watch in 2019.


With a current market cap hovering around $860B, Microsoft is the second most valuable company in the world, and could be the next company to reach $1T. 

We take a deep dive into the strategies the company is pursuing in cloud, enterprise IT, AI, gaming, and much more. Read the report here.

Quite an event

The latest CB Insights and Willis Towers Watson insurance tech report focuses on insurtech companies developing event-based insurance offerings.

Download the full report here.

 Robots at the bank

Robotic process automation (RPA) software is streamlining workplace functions at large banks, including data entry, document review, transaction processing, and more.

We map out 90+ startups using AI and machine learning to automate banking operations, from fraud detection to customer identity verification. Expert Intelligence clients can see them all here.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. If you know someone happy, helpful, humble, and hungry, introduce them to us for a chance to win $5K.

This week in data:

  • $385M: SoftBank made another big bet on the future of transportation with a $385M investment in subscription car service Fair. Fair buys used cars from dealers and then offers cars to drivers for a subscription fee via its app. The company already has a partnership with another SoftBank portfolio company — Uber. The user car service is already in 25 cities. In our Auto & Mobility 2019 Trends report, we looked at the most important trends shaping the sector in the coming year, including mobility-as-a-service. Check out the report here.

  • $50M: ABInBev, the world’s largest alcohol company by sales, is partnering with Canadian cannabis company Tilray to invest $50M each in exploring infusing THC and CBD in non-alcoholic beverages. With alcohol sales stalling, we’ve been tracking how major alcohol brands have been expanding into cannabis products and much more.

  • $42B: Pharma giants GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have announced plans to merge their consumer health divisions, creating the world’s biggest over-the-counter drug supplier. GSK will have a 68% stake in the new company, while Pfizer will hold the remaining 32%. The would-be new venture generated combined sales of $12.7B last year, and would count brands like Tums, Centrum vitamins, Advil, and Sensodyne toothpaste. Estimates suggest the new business could command a market valuation of $42B. Download our report on the Consumerization of Healthcare here.
  • $122M: German auto incumbent Volkswagen struck a $122M deal for Volvo’s WirelessCar, taking a 75.1% stake in the connected driving developer. Right now, approximately 3.5M vehicles worldwide use the WirelessCar platform. VW plans to integrate the system into its own vehicles, in an effort to boost its connected vehicle offerings. CB Insights clients with expert intelligence can read about 10 trends shaping the future of the connected car here.

  • $1.3M per person: Here’s a nice holiday bonus: e-cigarette company Juul just sold a 35% stake to Marlboro maker Altria Group to the tune of $12.8B, including a $2B bonus for Juul employees. At a headcount of about 1,500 workers, that averages out to a $1,333,333 bonus per person (though the exact amount everyone gets will depend on how long they’ve worked at the company, how much stock they own, etc.). The deal values Juul at $38B, more than double its $16B valuation from July.
  • 1.5M: For the first time ever, the year’s busiest day for returns came before Christmas, per estimates by UPS. This year, UPS estimated 1.5 million returned packages on December 19th, compared to an estimated 1.3 million to be returned on January 3, 2019. (January 3rd has historically been the busiest day for returns.) The spike can largely be attributed to shoppers making online purchases earlier in the holiday season and e-commerce retailers who have smoothed out their returns processes. Throughout the season, UPS says consumers have been sending back an average of a million parcels a day.
  • 1.4 billion: US cheeses are piling up. Stores of American, cheddar, and more have grown to unprecedented levels, with 1.4 billion pounds being stockpiled in cold-storage warehouses — the biggest stockpile on record. The glut is driven in part by retaliatory dairy tariffs instituted by Mexico and China, as cheese shipments to the countries are down 10% and 63% respectively. CEOs and investors in industries ranging from e-commerce to food and beverage have sounded off on the impact of tariffs; see what they had to say here.

  • 81g: After several months of quiet, brutal battle, the naked mole-rat colony of the Smithsonian National Zoo Small Mammal House has finally chosen their new queen, as the largest mole-rat of the bunch gave birth to a litter of babies. (Naked mole rats are one of 2 eusocial mammalian species, which pick one queen to rule the colony.) Over the weekend, the new queen weighed in at 81 grams, compared to 32 to 55 grams for the other mole-rats, and thus far has had 3 pups. Google’s Calico spinoff is one company taking interest in naked mole-rats these days, as the animals live unusually long lives. Read about other drug & tech companies exploring the future of aging here.

  • $500M: SpaceX is reportedly raising $500M at a $30.5B valuation, with the goal of expanding its satellite broadband network. The company was last valued at $18.5B a year ago, and to date has raised $1.89B in total disclosed funding. These new funds will be raised from existing shareholders as well as new investor Baillie Gifford & Co (a major investor in Tesla, another Elon Musk founded company). The money will be invested in SpaceX’s satellite internet service, Starlink, which the company plans to power with some 4,000 satellites orbiting the earth. From space travel to internet service, we rounded up 8 industries being disrupted by Elon Musk’s companies.
One more thing...


Albuquerque, New Mexico doesn't get a lot of snow in the winter, so the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) builds a 14' snowman out of tumbleweeds every year.

The tradition began in 1995. The snowman goes up the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is displayed along the highway outside the AMAFCA offices.

AMAFCA employees start looking for tumbleweeds as early as August.
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