Canada Day. Upfront's new fund. Walgreens take over.
We’re going to talk about two of society’s biggest problems today.
But first, in honor of Canada Day, we issued The Periodic Table of Canada in partnership with our friends at PwC. It features 150 of Canada’s most prominent startups, investors and exits.
Be on the lookout for the Canadian MoneyTree report by PwC and CB Insights next month. If you are a startup or investor doing deals in Canada, you can update your data here.
What is ruining civilization? (part I)
Read a couple of good articles on this recently.
One in the New Republic (The Rise of the Thought Leader) where they draw a distinction between public intellectuals and our newly-minted thought leaders.
And there is another one by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Intellectual Yet Idiot). Taleb spoke a bit about this at The Future of Fintech.
While I don’t agree with every part of these essays and who they pick on or their conclusions, the broad strokes about the rise of these shallow intellectual idiots is very true.
In fact, thought leadership is reaching epic proportions in tech.
Here’s the general formula.
Startup founder or investor makes some money as part of an exit (or gets it from his parents but somehow pretends like he earned it)
That success now makes them an expert on macroeconomics, inequality and other long-standing, complex societal problems
They read a couple of essays by other thought leaders and then come up with simplistic solutions to these long-standing problems
They then use their bullhorns to push their ideas out to everyone
Fanboys parrot this stuff out creating momentum around these half-baked, simple, platitude-driven ideas
Witness universal basic income as one of the latest things that successful tech dudes have jumped on-board with. It may very well be a good idea, but I’m not sure the guy who made money by being good at SEO or growth hacking the app store should be trusted blindly to figure out how to solve inequality.
I look forward to hearing why I’m wrong.
What is ruining civilization? (part II)
The smart minds at NASA are wasting their time reacting to this nonsense.
We are so f’d.
On that note, Happy 4th of July to those in the USA and Happy Canada Day to our friends in the north 🙂
P.S. We’ll be off Monday and Tuesday for the July 4th holiday in the US.
This week in data:
$10: The opening share price for Blue Apron as it began trading yesterday under the APRN ticker, down from the company’s initial estimates, which put the IPO price at $15-$17. The decrease was likely in part due to the Amazon-Whole Foods deal. As we detail on the blog, Blue Apron’s lower price gave the meal kit startup an IPO valuation of approximately $1.9B, marking the IPO as a down exit for the company after it was previously valued at $2.6B. Restaurant delivery startup Delivery Hero went public in Frankfurt this week at a valuation at exit north of $5B.
5 & 10: This week, Apple bought SensoMotoric Instruments — a company that specializes in developing eye-tracking tech for AR/VR headsets and glasses – marking its 5th disclosed acquisition of the year. The move follows Apple’s announcement of the “ARKit,” an augmented reality toolset aimed at helping developers create AR apps for iOS, earlier this month. As Apple celebrates 10(!) years of the iPhone & iOS, we recently took a look at Apple’s acquisition timeline to see how M&A has helped set the company up to be a player in AR.
$50M: The total VC funding raised by Pearl Automation, which shut its doors this week. Founded in 2014 by three ex-Apple iPod engineers, Pearl had set its sights on developing autonomous vehicle technology. But to date, it had only released one product: A $500 wireless automotive camera designed for vehicles without pre-installed rear-view cameras. Pearl had employed 50 additional ex-Apple employees. Read about 111 other costly startup flameouts here.
$400M: The amount of Series E funding secured by Houzz, a social discovery and e-commerce platform for home remodeling and design. The round brings Houzz’s valuation to nearly $4B, making it the seventh-highest valued e-commerce startup in the world. (Read more on Houzz’s valuation here.)
70%: The proportion of millennials that Harit Talwar, head of digital finance at Goldman Sachs, says would rather visit their dentists than listen to their banks, seemingly citing this statistic. As Talwar pointed out onstage at Future of Fintech, this presents a major market opportunity for Goldman and other banks. But only if they unlock more value for consumers who — as Kenneth Lin, CEO and founder of Credit Karma said at the conference — see 60% of their loan applications get declined.
2 billion: The number of global Facebook users, according to a post earlier this week by Mark Zuckerberg. The social platform’s community has now doubled in size in just five years. The company hit 1 billion members in 2012 after eight years in existence.
100%: The percentage of “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions that cleared the latest round of stress tests from Federal Reserve on Wednesday. This marks the first time all 34 of the big banks received a passing grade since the Fed began testing the banks annually in 2011.
2,186: The number of Rite Aid stores that will be taken over by Walgreens for $5.18B, pending regulatory approval. Walgreens’ intent to buy the stores is a revised plan announced yesterday, after the company’s deal to buy Rite Aid outright was struck down with an antitrust block. With Amazon reportedly developing its own prescription drug delivery service, we recently used our Business Social Graph to visualize where the top four pharmacy retailers (Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Rite Aid) are placing their bets in the private market.
$280M: The personal investment made by French billionaire Xavier Niel in Station F, a new incubator/accelerator in Paris that aims to help nurture France’s tech scene, per a feature on Station F published in The New York Times. According to the Q1’17 La French Tech report powered by CB Insights data, Q1’17 saw an all-time quarterly high of 180 deals to tech companies in France. Xavier Niel and the venture firm he co-founded Kima Ventures were among the 5 most active equity investors in tech companies in France in that quarter.
7: Upfront’s new $400M fund is now the largest-ever LA-based venture fund and is at least the seventh VC or corporate venture fund based in the Greater Los Angeles area to close at $50M or more in 2017 so far. In addition to Upfront’s fund, LA-based Kairos Ventures raised $74.7M toward a potential $150M fund last week.