On Amazon’s earnings call yesterday, the company’s CFO, Brian Olsavsky, said that hiring in AWS was expected to exceed the company-wide average. For the Pundit Industrial Complex, this was a revelation.
But for those of you who read our Amazon strategy teardown from months ago, you already knew this (look at the blue portion of the graph below).
50%: Looking at global corporate venture capital activity, early-stage deals (seed / angel and Series A) took 50% of deal share in H1’17. In Q2’17, Series A deal share reached 30% for the first time in 5 quarters. Read about all this and more in our H1’17 Corporate Venture Capital Report.
3: This week, the MIT Technology Review reported on the first known attempt to genetically modify human embryos in the United States using the CRISPR gene editing technique. Led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, the process involved altering DNA code by injecting CRISPR into the eggs at time of fertilization. To date, just 3 previous reports of modifying human embryos were published, all by scientists in China. We discussed the concept of “customized babies” in our “N+1” trends report, which looks at future tech trends with the ability to shape business and society in the next 5-10 years. We also dug into CRISPR and the future of personalized medicine in our genomics briefing earlier this week. Get the slides and recording.
$90.6B: Amazon CEO and co-founder Jeff Bezos briefly dethroned Bill Gates as the richest person in the world when the billionaire’s worth reached an estimated $90.6B, surpassing the Microsoft founder by $500M earlier this week. According to Forbes, Amazon stock “opened up 1.6%…adding $1.4 billion to Bezos’ net worth.” The company’s stock then dropped 2% later in the day, allowing Gates to reclaim his No.1 spot. Amazon was the subject of one of our most recent teardowns, which looks at the company’s investment, acquisition, and research strategy.
$2B: The amount raised by Singapore-based Grab, a private transportation network company (TCN), in Series G funding from Didi Chuxing and SoftBank Group. It is the largest disclosed round to date for the company, and raised the unicorn’s valuation from $3B to $6B. We previously analyzed the investor network of top TCNs — including Uber, Didi Chuxing, Lyft, Ola, and Grab — as well as where these companies are placing their bets.
21.2B: Elon Musk’s SpaceX is now valued at $21B after the company reportedly raised as much as $350M in a recent financing round. The company was last valued around $10B in early 2015, after raising a $1B Series D round from Fidelity Investments and Google. SpaceX is one of 7 private companies valued at $20B+, joining companies such as Uber, Didi Chuxing, Xiaomi, and more. The California-based company can be found on our recently updated map of US unicorns.
2: Speaking of unicorns, Indonesia-based travel startup Traveloka raised $350M from Expedia, raising its valuation to $2B and making it the latest $1B+ private market company to enter the global unicorn club. The company joins on-demand company Go-Jek as the 2nd Indonesia-based unicorn featured on our real-time tracker. News also surfaced this week that Alibaba will supposedly lead a $500M round into Indonesian e-commerce company Tokopedia, perhaps pointing to the country’s 3rd unicorn in the near future.
0: Twitter saw an average of 328 million monthly active users in Q2’17, according to the company’s quarterly results released earlier this week. Although up 5% year-over-year, the number remained the same from Q1’17, indicating that the company added zero net new users last quarter. Though the company failed to grow its monthly audience, daily active users grew 12% year-over-year, marking its third consecutive quarter of double-digit growth.
$15M: Prospera, a company which uses deep learning-based computer vision technology for monitoring crops in real-time, raised $15M in Series B funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Cisco Investments, ICV, and Qualcomm Ventures. Looking at other robotics and AI companies working in agriculture, Prospera is joined by at least 11 other startups working within the “in-field monitoring” category.
The company can also be found in our Feeding the Future Report, featuring startups and technologies transforming the way our food gets grown, stored, shipped, and sold.
$7.99: Mushroom, an app that uses “revolutionary AI” to identify mushrooms, is raising concern among many mycologists and fungi-foragers. At $7.99, the app claims the ability to identify any given mushroom with a single picture. Mushroom foragers are calling the service “potentially deadly,” referencing the notion that a mushroom can’t be identified just by looking at it, and eating a seemingly edible mushroom could result in sickness, or even death. According to The Verge, the app’s developer, Nicholas Sheriff, plans to pivot the app into a platform for chefs to buy and sell truffles.