Words of wisdom. Saudi Arabia's investments. The coolest new candy.
Pumpkin spice skepticism
It finally feels like fall in NYC, so pumpkin spice flavored products have taken over, as they do every year.
Surprisingly, pumpkin spice is not mentioned nearly as much as we would have thought in company earnings calls, but when it is, it’s in Q4 (October-December).
Reading Jeff Bezos’ annual letter to Amazon shareholders is basically a crash course in running a high-growth internet business from someone who mastered it before any of the playbooks were written.
We analyze the letters and unpack the most important lessons in each one. Read them all here.
(GIF source: Tenor)
Competition? Why yes, I would love some
You’ve probably been hearing lately that the US share of VC is declining. This is a non-story.
The US was the only real VC scene for a long time — its share could only decline. Meanwhile, funding in the US remains very high. Silicon Valley hitting a peak has been a popular narrative we’ve seen every year.
It’s also worth noting that the rise of other regions has not been widespread or evenly distributed. China is a powerhouse in tech/VC investing, but Europe and the US outside of Silicon Valley (and a few other notable markets) are total snooze fests.
All those articles you see about the US heartland being the next hub of tech innovation are great PR by investors, which have an interest in perpetuating that narrative.
Yes, there’s more going on there now and it’s great to see, but let’s be real — they are nothing burgers right now.
More on that below.
I want candy
Halloween candy sales are projected to hit $2.6B this year. While classics like M&Ms, Hersheys, and Twix still dominate, old and new players have some surprising confections in the works.
Folks should exercise a bit more skepticism when they see posts about how the US is losing its VC dominance.
Look at who’s quoted — it’s always the same people — and evaluate if the commentary and data analysis are rigorous and balanced or just data used to drive an agenda.
A lot of this is the media taking the information and writing “the sky is falling” headlines, but it’s still always worth considering the source.
If CB Insights starts the Center for Data Driving All Decisions and we issue a study saying that if you don’t use our data, your company will likely go bankrupt in the next 6 months, you should be skeptical (at least a little).
Wait til I get my money right
Payments tech startups have raised a whopping $30B since 2014, and with online shopping booming and more businesses using online payments, they’re gaining ground on incumbents.
From bank APIs to the point-of-sale, we map out 125+ companies transforming the payments space. Clients with Expert Intelligence can see them all here.
Saudi Arabia has gotten a lot of news attention recently, following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now a number of big corporates are backing out of the country’s Future Investment Initiative.
The controversy comes at a time when the Kingdom’s investment activity has increased considerably.
We outline its tech investments over the last five years, including PIF, the Saudi Royal Family, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Kingdom Holding Company. See them all here.
Since I may get some grief from folks saying I’m some kind of Silicon Valley fanboy, remember:
CB Insights is in NYC.
We poke at SV’s inanity all the time in our newsletter.
If tech/investing gets more global, it’s great for our business. I hope it happens.
If VC’s center of gravity has shifted a bit from SV and the US, this is one of the US’ best exports, i.e., entrepreneurship, risk-taking, using technology to solve intractable problems, etc.
BTW, a lot of these newer regions have spent time developing a seed/early-stage ecosystem. That’s necessary, but it’s not sufficient because there is no talent or funding as they scale.
That’s when SV investors come in, and also when cos relocate to SV, NYC, etc.
You’re going to need a bigger cart
Instacart just raised a $600M round of funding, bringing its valuation to $7.6B. The delivery service startup is quickly gaining popularity, positioning itself as a necessity for grocery retailers trying to compete with Amazon.