Automaker startup is fast and furious

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 When it comes to startup investment, automakers are still going full speed ahead.

From ride-hailing apps to driverless car technology, transportation startups have attracted unprecedented sums of investment capital from auto manufacturers in recent years. In the past few quarters, that trend has been accelerating.

An analysis of Crunchbase data shows that since the beginning of 2019, the world’s largest car and truck manufacturers have led financing rounds valued at more than $6 billion. Over that period, they’ve participated in more than 50 deals for several million dollars and up, indicating an expanded willingness to pump significant sums into rounds.

“It has been a continuation of the trends for many of the automakers that have been particularly active over the past few years,” said Chris Stallman, a partner at Detroit-based transport venture firm Fontinalis Partners. “In 2019 and 2020, however, it has been interesting to see a few automakers—particularly those in Asia—aggressively ramping up their innovation efforts.”

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Somebody snuck a potato int CES 2020 to make a scathing point about useless smart gadgets

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Startup founder launches ″Potato″ at CES 2020

I almost walked right by it. But then I realized the object the young man was holding up, apparently thrilling the small crowd gathered around his tiny CES 2020 booth, was a potato.

The vegetable in question looked like an ordinary, chunky Idaho spud, although protruding out of one side was some kind of antenna, a black plastic appendage bent upward. Close to the potato’s surface, the exterior of the antenna became a thin, blade-like electrode that pierced the skin, clearly doing… something.

The man was regaling the crowd with his incredible smart product, which he said was finally unlocking the awesome decision-making power of the potato. The antenna, which he called the NeuraSpud, tapped into the potato’s “artificial intelligence.” Once you connected your smartphone over Bluetooth to the device and launched the accompanying app, you could ask the potato anything — with your voice, no less — and it would spout an answer on the screen, the digital-vegetable equivalent of a Magic Eight Ball.

If the smart potato sounds like a big, stupid stunt, that’s because it is. The man behind the idea, Nicholas Baldeck from France, told me he brought his admittedly ridiculous “invention” to CES to make a point about the torrent of smart gadgets at the show, many of which don’t really solve problems at all.

“This product has way more chance of success than 60% of the startups here,” Baldeck says. “I am skeptical of this idea of ‘connected everything.’ Now it looks like innovation is about putting a chip into any object. I’m not sure the word ‘smart’ makes more sense before the word toothbrush than the word potato.”

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The average age of a successful startup founder is 45

 

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It’s widely believed that the most successful entrepreneurs are young. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg were in their early twenties when they launched what would become world-changing companies. Do these famous cases reflect a generalizable pattern? VC and media accounts seem to suggest so. When we analyzed founders who have won TechCrunch awards over the last decade, the average age at the time of founding was just 31. For the people selected by Inc. magazine as the founders of the fastest-growing startups in 2015, the average age at founding was only 29. Consistent with these findings, Paul Graham, a cofounder of Y Combinator, once quipped that “the cutoff in investors’ heads is 32… After 32, they start to be a little skeptical.” But is this view correct?

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The world’s most valuable company

After multiple delays, Saudia Arabia is finally making it happen.

A much-watched step in the country’s goals to modernize and privatize parts of its economy, its state-owned oil business, Saudi Aramco, raised $25.6 billion in the world’s largest IPO ever after pricing 3 billion shares at 32 riyals ($8.53) apiece.

The raise beats the largest yet—that of Alibaba’s in 2014—by about $600 million. It also crowns the company as the most valuable among publicly-traded companies right now.

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The age of celebrity cofounders

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Feel like more celebrities have become venture capitalists than ever before? You’re not alone.

Not a week goes by that another actor, athlete, musician, or internet celebrity doesn’t pop up on a cap table as an angel investor or via their family office-turned-venture fund. The media treats Ashton Kutcher as patient zero of the celebrity investing bug, but the truth is, celebrities have acted as minority partners in brands, businesses, and startups for decades prior. No disrespect to Kelso but if I’m being honest, it’s all become quite boring.

 

A decade ago, being a celebrity-turned-tech investor used to mean you were an early adopter, with rare connections into the new, exciting world of technology startups. Likewise, getting a celebrity investor in your company meant you were well-networked or that your product had the potential to catch the eye of the elusive glitterati. But with all the deal flow, advisers, syndicates and co-investment opportunities available to celebrities today, if you’re not at-least passively allocating some of your wealth into startups as an A-Lister, well, consider yourself B+ at best.

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Why Canada is becoming a start-up mecca rivaling Silicon Valley

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KEY POINTS

Five Canadian companies made CNBC’s 2019 Upstart 100 list unveiled on Tuesday: Attabotics, Calgary; Cmd, Vancouver; Deep Genomics and Nobul, Toronto; and RenoRun, Montreal.

Collectively, these promising start-ups raised more than $77 million in venture capital.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem is booming in major cities in Canada, thanks to government incentives, a growing tech talent pool and access to venture capital.

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Russian startup sells robot clones of real people

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Will robots like this eventually replace human workers?

“Everyone will now be able to order a robot with any appearance — for professional or personal use. Thus, we open a huge market in service, education and entertainment. Imagine a replica of Michael Jordan selling basketball uniforms and William Shakespeare reading his own texts in a museum?” said Aleksei Iuzhakov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Promobot, in a statement

The company’s Robo-C has a neck and torso that each have three degrees of freedom of movement, but it cannot walk.

The robot’s face has 18 moving parts, allowing it to make 600 “micro-expressions,” and its artificial intelligence contains 100,000 speech modules.

“Promobot believes that a robot like this is capable of removing the barrier in human-machine interaction and replacing a number of employees in crowded places– post offices, banks, and municipal institutions,” the company states in a press release.

However, the android — which Promobot calls a “completely anthropomorphic machine,” only has 8 hours of battery life.

Via Fox News

 

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11 surprising and insightful statistics about startups

 

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The rate at which a startup grows has long been a big determinant of startup success. While growth matters, over 70% of startups fail because of premature scaling. This finding and 10 more listed below will help you make wiser decisions based on previous failures, successes and data-backed conclusions.

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Four years in startups

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Life in Silicon Valley during the dawn of the unicorns.

The first time I looked at a block of code and understood what was happening, I felt like a genius.

Depending on whom you ask, 2012 represented the apex, the inflection point, or the beginning of the end for Silicon Valley’s startup scene—what cynics called a bubble, optimists called the future, and my future co-workers, high on the fumes of world-historical potential, breathlessly called the ecosystem. Everything was going digital. Everything was up in the cloud. A technology conglomerate that first made its reputation as a Web-page search engine, but quickly became the world’s largest and most valuable private repository of consumer data, developed a prototype for a pair of eyeglasses on which the wearer could check his or her e-mail; its primary rival, a multinational consumer-electronics company credited with introducing the personal computer to the masses, thirty years earlier, released a smartphone so lightweight that gadget reviewers compared it to fine jewelry.

Technologists were plucked from the Valley’s most prestigious technology corporations and universities and put to work on a campaign that reëlected the United States’ first black President. The word “disruption” proliferated, and everything was ripe for or vulnerable to it: sheet music, tuxedo rentals, home cooking, home buying, wedding planning, banking, shaving, credit lines, dry-cleaning, the rhythm method. It was the dawn of the unicorns: startups valued, by their investors, at more than a billion dollars. The previous summer, a prominent venture capitalist, in the op-ed pages of an international business newspaper, had proudly declared that software was “eating the world.”

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‘Extraordinary’ breakthroughs in anti-Aging research ‘will happen faster than people think’

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People 50 and older have a lot to look forward to, according to Juvenescence’s Greg Bailey—mainly that we won’t be aging as fast or poorly as our parents. “Science fiction has become science,” said the UK-based anti-aging biotech’s CEO about the company’s completing its $100 million Series B round of financing last week. “I think the world is going to be shocked,” he said in an interview. In total, Juvenescence has now raised $165 million in just 18 months to fund longevity projects with the lofty goal of extending human lifespans to 150 years.

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Ideas are a dime a dozen. Here are twelve problems that could lead to a billion-dollar startup

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Next generation technology in the home for an aging population.

Startup founders can often find themselves working on an idea that sounds plausible, but does not provide a solution to a problem people care about in a meaningful way. Y Combinator founder and investor Paul Graham says that often, these startups are born from individuals who are simply “trying to think of startup ideas” and not looking for problems. Graham calls these ideas “made-up” or “sitcom” startup ideas, as they sound like something a writer for a television sitcom would come up with when creating a script for a character that had a business idea. The idea seems possible, even though in reality it is bad and no one would use or buy it.

Take a look around at the products and services you are currently using and surrounded by. Why are they there? Well, it’s because they are solving a problem or filling a need you would otherwise be experiencing. This is how all great inventions and startup businesses are born, from a problem or need. From electricity, to the telephone, to the Internet, and more recently to Uber and AirBnb, great businesses are built on big problems.

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How to start a business with no money

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Startup advice can be seductive. From motivational quotes to magazine profiles, there’s a persistent narrative that if you follow your passion, log 80 hours a week, and “hustle hard,” you’ll create the next Amazon or Airbnb.

It is possible.

We all know that hard work can produce incredible results. But the prevailing rise-and-grind mythology often pushes founders into business before they’re ready.

Many smart, ambitious people feel pressured to quit their jobs and go all-in. They work around the clock, sacrificing their health and happiness to chase a startup dream.

For every founder who’s battling exhaustion and surviving on protein bars, I’d like to suggest a different path.

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