But “Gradually, Then Suddenly” also applies to specific technologies like AI. How fast is AI improving? The images below, taken from research papers, are examples of computer generated faces created by AI algorithms known as Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs.
The last face in particular is amazing. It has all the imperfections and subtle asymmetries of a real face. There is no “uncanny valley” for me. But the real jaw-dropping thing is the progress itself, how the output went from semi-laughable to passable to suddenly near perfect in just 4.5 years.
This is “Gradually, Then Suddenly” made visible.
One can imagine the impact as other behind-the-scenes AI algorithms get better at applications like credit underwriting, cyber-defense, driver assistance systems, etc.
No wonder AI is our most-requested research topic by clients (which led us to launch our client-only newsletter This Week in AI late last year).
Quantum computers can process massive, complex datasets more efficiently than classic computers. The technology could transform numerous industries, from telecommunications to cybersecurity to finance.
But how does it work?
We answer that question and dig into different types of quantum computing, the industry landscape, and more. Check it out here.
*Sad trombone sound*
The hard truth is most startups don’t make it. We sifted through over 100 postmortems to figure out why.
-7%: Tesla is slashing its full-time workforce by 7%, per an email sent by CEO Elon Musk to Tesla employees this morning. With a current workforce of about 45,000, that means 3,150 employees will be losing their jobs. Per Musk’s email, the layoffs were necessary because Tesla has to produce cheaper variants of its Model 3 car. In response to the news, Tesla’s stock has fallen as much as 10% today. Last spring we took a look at how Tesla’s troubles highlight the difficulty of automating a factory — clients can read about it here.
+8.84M: In its Q4 earnings call this week, Netflix beat expectations on subscriber growth but fell just below the mark on revenue. The streaming company added 1.53M domestic subscribers and 7.31M international subscribers (a total of 8.84M) last quarter to reach revenues of $4.19B, a 28% YoY increase. Results came in just days after Netflix’s largest ever price hike, which included raising its most popular plan from $11 to $13 per month. Per the call, going forward Netflix will deemphasize its free trial period, focusing more on higher-cost subscriptions.
$100B+: The 6 biggest US banks topped $100B in annual profits for the first time ever, making more than $111B in 2018. JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America both had record years, while Goldman Sachs and Citigroup each hit numbers not seen since before the 2008 financial crisis. Contributing factors include tax cuts, rising interest rates, and a general uptick in retail banking. We recently dove into where these top US banks are making bets in fintech. Read about it here.
3x: The Chinese market for electric cars is more than 3x the size of the US electric market, according to data from InsideEVs and China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers. In China, sales of EVs and hybrids rose 60% to hit 1.26M units in 2018, compared to just 361K units sold in the US. CB Insights clients can see our market map of 60+ startups driving innovation in electric vehicles here.
<6: People who get fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night have a 27% higher risk of developing dangerous plaque in arteries throughout the body than those who sleep 7 to 8 hours, according to a new study published in the journal of the American College of Cardiology. This plaque, called atherosclerosis, raises the risk of strokes, poor circulation, and heart disease. Check out our sleep tech market map, which highlights everything from sleep-tracking wearables to specialty mattresses.
$500M: Microsoft has pledged $500M to help address the problem of affordable housing in the Seattle suburbs. Microsoft plans to offer $225M in subsidized loans for middle-income housing near its Redmond headquarters, plus an additional $250M for low-income housing. The last $25M will go to homeless organizations. We talked about how tech giants are making their mark on residential real estate, from on-campus residential housing to investments in smart city tech, in our Future of Housing Report. Check it out here.
613%: Forget the stock market — collecting Legos gets a better ROI than stocks, bonds, or gold, according to a study by Professor Victoria Dobrynskaya of Russia’s Higher School of Economics. Dobrynskaya studied 2,300 sets sold between 1987 and 2015 to measure price-return over time. Collections like Hogwarts castle and Jedi fighter ships yielded 11% a year, while the Star Wars Darth Revan kit raked in a 613% premium, jumping from $3.99 to $28.46 on eBay. Lego sets based on The Simpsons are the only ones to have lost value, falling 3.5%.
400M: Peppa Pig — a British preschool animated series, starring the titular Peppa — is going international. A new video promoting the show has gone viral on Chinese media, with the hashtag #WhatisPeppa (#啥是佩奇#) appearing some 400 million times on social media platform Weibo as of this morning. The video, directed by Beijing director Zhang Dapeng, features a Chinese grandfather going on a quest to find out what Peppa is in order to give his little grandson the perfect New Year’s gift.
47 million: The Instagram account @world_record_egg achieved its goal of having the most-liked photo this week with a picture of a chicken egg. The image ballooned to over 47M likes, smashing Kylie Jenner’s record of 18.6M Instagram likes. As of noon today, the egg had 48,535,547 likes.