Venture Bytes #56 – Startups for Startups

Venture Bytes #56 – Startups for Startups

on September 16, 2019

The two lead articles are ‘Startups for Startups’ and ‘AB5 Strikes at the Core of the Gig Economy’. With the proliferation of venture capital funding in larger rounds at seed stage and beyond, startups are larger than most tech companies that went public in the 1990s and 2000s. The institutionalization of venture capital and start up funding has also led to robust marketplaces of surrounding services for the startups, specifically in adjacent domains and non-core areas of the key business value proposition. The second article is on the implications of the passage of the California AB5 bill. We believe it is a misguided policy and will hurt employees, businesses and consumers rather than helping them as was originally intended.

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Venture Bytes #55 – The Future of Batteries is Aluminium – Not Lithium

on September 16, 2019

The first one, ‘The Future of Batteries is Aluminum – Not Lithium’  makes a case for aluminum-air batteries in place of lithium-ion batteries that are the current go-to batteries for big technology and car companies. The second article, ‘It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s a Drone!’ looks at the state of drone technology and the timeline for mass commercial deployments.

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Venture Bytes #54 – It’s the Data, Stupid!

on July 10, 2019

The first article stays on the theme of autonomous cars that we have been writing about in the last few editions. Our main take here is that we can get autonomous vehicles today, but they will not be safe. In order to have safe AVs, we need at least 10 years of data gathering. AVs use a type of intelligence algorithm called neural networks, and the main characteristic you have to know about neural networks is that they are the most data demanding algorithm out there. The second article is our commentary on the IPO market. We believe there is a perfect confluence of events underlying this strong IPO market. The key question as we enter the second half of 2019 is whether the IPO juggernaut will continue to power ahead? We believe all key indicators suggest the second half will be equally strong compared to the first half of 2019, with enterprise software/cloud companies leading the charge.

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Venture Bytes #53 – In the Hunt for the Holy Grail

on June 20, 2019

Reaching profitability is the Holy Grail for the ride hailing companies. The narrative today is that autonomous vehicles (AV) will eliminate the biggest cost component (driver commissions), thereby increasing the take rates and moving the companies closer to profitability. While we believe AVs will accelerate the timeline to reaching profitability, a lot more expenses need to be factored in before we get there. The second article looks at the micromobility business in the face of large investments in this business by the participants. We believe this business in the long run will be net additive to the overall ride hailing business, given its compelling economics and growing demand.

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Venture Bytes #52 – Lyft Has AV Mapped Out

on June 20, 2019

The two lead articles are titled ‘Lyft Has AV Mapped Out’ and ‘Digital Ads Surpass Traditional Ads’. Both the articles are topical given the recent IPOs of Lyft and Pinterest. The race to introduce the first commercially viable autonomous vehicle (AV) is on. A number of companies are jockeying to be the leader given the high stakes, particularly for Uber and Lyft, the incumbent leaders in the current ride-hailing market. Handicapping the winner in this race is not easy but early indications suggest that Lyft is ahead of the pack. The second article is highly supportive of Pinterest given its mobile-native platform and digital ad-based revenue model. The digital ad market is on a strong growth trajectory, essentially insulated from the challenges facing the traditional ad market.

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Venture Bytes #51 – Lyft to Lift the Hood

on June 20, 2019

The two lead articles in this edition are very topical. The first one, ‘Lyft to Lift the Hood’, is our take on the ride-hailing market and Lyft’s strong competitive position in it, which is essentially a duopoly. The second article, ‘A Hardware Speed Bump for Neural Networks’, highlights the limitations of harnessing the full potential of artificial intelligence.

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Venture Bytes #50: Are We There Yet?

on March 4, 2019

The first lead article ‘Are We There Yet?’ is our take on the timeline for commercially viable autonomous vehicles. There is no doubt that autonomous cars will one day replace the need for human-driven cars given the safety factor. Until then, which could be anywhere from 5 to 25 years depending on whom you ask, all the pieces of the puzzle still need to come together. The second article ‘AI, ML and the Ripple Effect’ highlights the flip side of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in our lives, particularly its potential to widen the divide between the haves and have nots.

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Venture Bytes #49 – Onwards to 2019 with Strong Tailwind

on January 7, 2019

The two lead articles are ‘Onwards to 2019 with Strong Tailwind’ and ‘Let the Race Begin – And the Speculation’.

To say 2018 was a remarkable year for IPOs is an understatement. With favorable market conditions during the first three quarters of the year, nearly 200 public offerings were completed rivaling, after a long lull, the strong activity levels in 2014 and early 2000s. More important, of all the companies going public in 2018, 38 were valued at $1 billion or more at the time of their IPO. This made 2018 the year with the highest number of unicorn public offerings since the 2000 dot-com bubble. Looking ahead, 2019 is shaping up to be another remarkable year for technology unicorns.

Lyft and Uber have already announced their plans to IPO in 2019 and a number of others are teeing up for their own IPOs. Whether the rush to the exits is due to tightening market conditions or some other reason, the 2019 IPO pipeline is promising to be remarkable in terms of numbers and size.

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Venture Bytes #48 – Online Food Delivery Platforms Kick into High Gear

on November 20, 2018

Online food-delivery platforms have hit their stride if recent funding rounds are any indication. Instacart raised $600 million in early October at a $7 billion valuation. DoorDash raised $250 million last August at a $4 billion valuation, topping its own earlier round of $535 million in March at a $1.4 billion valuation. Postmates raised $300 million in September at a $1.1 billion valuation. UberEats, an emerging leader in the delivery business, should be valued at $20 billion according to Goldman Sachs. To say the online food delivery business is hot will be an understatement.

The second article highlights the key takeaways from the spate of IPOs since the beginning of 2017 to September 2018. We highlighted a number of trends and patterns that we believe are noteworthy.

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Venture Bytes #47 – Trade War Redux but This Time It’s Different

on November 20, 2018

‘Trade Ware Redux but This Time It’s Different’. If the ongoing US-China trade war reminds you of the trade war with Japan in the 1980s, you are not mistaken. However the stakes are higher this time, particularly relating to VC investments that have been mutually beneficial over the last 10 years but could get negatively impacted if the rhetoric heats up further.

‘Cashierless Checkouts – Another Shot Across the Bow of Middle Class Jobs’. The cashierless checkout technology is no longer just a possibility. It’s a reality and it’s happening now. While this technology provides business efficiency for Amazon, it comes with major socioeconomic consequences – not all beneficial.

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