Emerging payments trends.
$9.4B impulse buys. Shopping on TikTok.
Below the speed limit
Cars are weird once you think about them. Love them or hate them, the technology and the infrastructure built around them are just mind-bogglingly ubiquitous — and not so efficient:
A couple of McKinsey consultants have figured that the typical American car spends only 2.6% of its time driving.
Only 14% of the gas we pump into our cars is actually used to move people around (much is lost to engine inefficiencies, idling, etc.)
The average American road only reaches top usage 2 or so hours a day. Most of the time, it’s empty space. Let’s not even talk about the planetary footprint of parking lots.
Think of how our time, spaces, and businesses will transform once AVs come to market (see This Week in Data below for news of Alibaba’s driverless car testing in California).
As we’ve written, it’s not just about the auto industry (big as that is at $4.1T, according to our Market Sizings database). It’s about radical transformations in retail, travel, real estate, etc. Timing is uncertain, sure, but the fact that the impact will be massive is not.
Rejoice, bitcoin bros
Crypto might not be reliable money yet, but increasing patent activity and steady media mentions may be good signs.
We mapped out 19 trends in US payments according to industry adoption and market strength in our latest NExTT report.
WeWork’s $39B wipeout left big opportunities for other co-working companies.
424 unicorns: Another 3 companies joined the global unicorn club this week. Language learning platform Duolingo (which even offers a Klingon course), UK-based payments startup Rapyd, and enterprise AI company Dataiku all reached $1B+ valuation in their latest funding rounds. See all 424 unicorns on our real-time tracker.
2nd: Autonomous vehicle (AV) startup AutoX, which is backed by China-based e-commerce giant Alibaba, applied to test its self-driving cars in California without an in-car safety driver. If approved, it would be only the second company so far to operate AVs without in-car human drivers in California, alongside Google’s Waymo. But these are far from the only players in the space. We look at 40+ cos working on AV tech here.
21 years: Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, stepped down from leadership positions in the search giant’s parent company Alphabet. The duo has been in active leadership roles in the company since it was founded 21 years ago, but will still retain controlling voting rights after the transition. Alphabet has made big bets to diversify away from ads and search, including becoming a major AI powerhouse — a transformation we explored in our client-exclusive report.
$9.4B: Cyber Monday saw Americans spend a record $9.4B in online sales — a 19% increase compared to last year, according to Adobe. Clients can glimpse the changing nature of retail in our Store Of The Future report.
+64%: Amazon signaled its intention to move further into quantum computing after announcing a cloud-based quantum computing offering, a dedicated research center, and a service for helping its cloud customers assess applications for the tech. Mentions of quantum computers in the media have increased 64% year-on-year, according to CB Insights’ news analysis tool. Find out why the space is heating up in our quantum computer explainer.
-6.1%: The US Department of Agriculture estimates that domestic production of potatoes will fall by 6.1% after harvests were compromised by adverse weather conditions. Some industry analysts are warning that the dent in potato supply could lead to shortages of french fries.
2 beats per minute: Researchers measured the heart rate of a blue whale — the largest known animal to have ever lived — in the wild for the first time. The team found that the blue whale’s heart rate dropped to just 2 beats per minute when it dived deep into the ocean. A typical human heart beats between 60-100 times per minute.
The eel, whose name is Miguel Wattson, releases “low-voltage blips of electricity” when he looks for food. His tank is connected to a special system that lets the shocks power strings of lights on the nearby tree.
The aquarium hopes the Christmas tree will help educate people about electric eels and give them a newfound appreciation for the unusual fish.