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:
It shows how hard it is to build tech companies in large emerging markets.
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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.