Google's space bets. Walmart patents. Smart money slowdown.
Serious eye roll
The best speakers at conferences are the ones who don’t give an F and say what’s on their mind. This is why Fred Wilson was a favorite at last year’s Future of Fintech Conference and why Chamath Palihapitiya tore the house down at our Innovation Summit.
Unfortunately, the tendency for 90% of folks is to play it safe and talk their book or stick to their talking points.
As a result, they are totally and utterly forgettable.
For this reason, I’m excited that Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan, is joining us at The Future of Fintech. Taleb is opinionated, irreverent, and brash. Beautiful.
We mapped out Google’s space tech bets and created a timeline showcasing key activity. Since 2013, Google has invested in, bought, or launched three companies and projects, and participated in five financing rounds.
Most were complimentary, but with 270k+ on the newsletter, a few weren’t. The criticisms fell into 3 buckets.
Bucket 1 – People didn’t get that the Elizabeth Holmes quotes (of Theranos fame) were sarcastic. Sorry. I continue to believe that the company that invents a sarcasm font will be a unicorn.
Bucket 2 – Some people thought picking on Elizabeth Holmes was unfair / mean-spirited. Two comments on that: (1) ha ha (2) that was nothing.
Bucket 3 – Several founders wrote saying they left $200-$300k jobs and the opportunity cost was real and that their families had to cut back and make compromises.
I’ve been there after I left a nice paycheck and cushy gig at American Express. It meant the family didn’t take vacations and we went out less with friends and we stayed in a smaller apartment for longer. And it meant dipping into savings and sending our daughter to public school instead of private.
It also meant the reputational risk of going back to a big co with my tail tucked between my legs if the startup didn’t work out.
It wasn’t fun.
But let’s not get it twisted. These are first-world risks. I could have swallowed my pride and gone back to being a corporate guy and gotten paid pretty quickly. And all the while, my wife was working and had insurance.
BTW, check out the Blurb for an amazing essay entitled “A Self-Made Man Looks at How He Made It.” It is fantastic.
The below is a patent that illustrates using machine vision to help guide shoppers through a store.
I’m in India learning how bidnis gets done
I believe this is called reverse reverse psychology.
Smart money slowdown
We analyzed deal activity among smart money investors to see how their investment pace has changed since 2013. The top VCs have seriously pulled back on their investment pace compared to 2015 levels, especially at the seed and Series A stage.