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Posts Tagged ‘Business Insider’

The early stage slump

Silicon ValleyHBO

  • The seed and early stage angel investing market has cooled over the past few years.
  • On a dollar basis, the cooling off has been mild.  On a deals basis, the cooling off has been dramatic and looks to be getting worse.
  • For entrepreneurs just starting out, this means it will be tougher to raise your first rounds. For investors, it means seed rounds are going to be the place to be. 

I tweeted out this article from TechCrunch in the middle of last week:

And the response from the Twittersphere was a desire to hear my views on it.

The data is pretty clear. The seed and early stage investing market has cooled substantially in the past few years.

Angel seed activityAVC/Venture Monitor

On a dollar basis, the cooling off has been mild.

On a deals basis, the cooling off has been dramatic and looks to be getting worse.

So what is going on?

When I talk to my friends who do a lot of angel investing, I hear that they are being more selective, licking some wounds, and waiting for liquidity on their better investments.

When I talk to my friends who started seed funds in the past decade, I hear them thinking about moving up market into larger funds and Series A rounds.

You can see that in the data. Less deals and bigger deals.

Here is the thing. Seed is really hard. You lose way more than you win. You wait the longest for liquidity. You lose influence as larger investors come into the cap table and start throwing their weight around.

It is where most people start out. Making angel investments, raising small seed funds. They learn the business and many see better economics higher up in the food chain and head there as soon as they can.

If you hit one or two right, you can make a fortune in seed. But those bets take a long time to get liquid. And if you don’t hit one or two right, you end up with a mediocre portfolio.

The Facebook IPO in May 2012 was a real boon to the angel and seed markets. A lot of instant millionaires re-invested their gains back into startups (just as BTC and ETH instant millionaires are re-investing their gains into ICOs right now). Many startup people reinvented themselves as angel investors, AngelListers, seed VCs, and early stage VCs. As I quoted TechCrunch in my tweet “2012-2016 was a bubble in early-stage funding.” I think the bubble actually started letting out air in mid 2015.

You could see all of this in the pricing of seed rounds. For most of my career, seed rounds were sub $1mm and they bought 15-25% of the company ($4-6mm post money). At the peak of the seed bubble, uncapped notes of $3-5mm were the norm for seed rounds. That wasn’t going to work. It was unsustainable.

So where does that leave us now?

For entrepreneurs just starting out, it will be tougher to raise your first rounds. That is how it always has been so it is a return to normal. It is not great news, but it is the reality. If you price your seed round appropriately and have a good team and plan, you can raise money. But it will be harder.

For investors, it means seed rounds are going to be the place to be. When others leave the market, it is time to get in. The uncapped note will turn into a priced $1mm round at $4mm pre/$5mm post. This is as it should be. The risks of seed investing are so significant that the valuations need to be reasonable. When you lose on 60-80% of your investments, you really need the ability to make 10-20x on your winners. And getting the entry pricing right is part of how that happens.

You can tell where there is too much money and too little money by looking at valuations. When valuations are extended, that means there is too much money. That was seed in 2014, growth in 2015/2016, and ICOs in 2017. The trick is to get into these sectors before the money shows up and get out when it does. And then get back in after it leaves. And not get burned along the way.

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50 startups that will boom in 2018, according to VCs

50 hot startups 2018BI Graphics

2018 is almost upon us and so it is once again time to predict which startups will take the tech industry by storm next year.

Who better to ask than the startup experts, the VCs that watch the industry, guide the startups, hear their pitches, and invest in them?

We reached out to a number of top VCs and asked them which startups will boom in 2018. We invited participation from investors from a variety of backgrounds and investing philosophies. This includes some of the top VCs in the Valley (Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Bessemer, Greylock Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia).

We included VCs of note who specialize in seed and early rounds (8VC, Bloomberg Beta, BBG Ventures — which backs startups with at least one female founder.) We also asked some top VCs from the startup nation Israel (JVC, OurCrowd) and VCs that have been known for picking hits (like IVP’s Somash Dash).

We asked them to name a company they’ve backed that’s on track to have a great 2018. After all, they believed in those companies so much they invested. But we also asked them to name another startup they think is cool that they don’t have any financial interest in.

As startup lovers, they gave us this list chock full of amazing up-and-comers creating tech for businesses, gamers, personalized health, robots, high-tech money, new forms of super computers, and even outer space.

http://www.businessinsider.com/50-startups-to-boom-in-2018-according-to-vcs-2017-11/#nauto-an-artificially-intelligent-dashcam-for-vehicles-1

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Here’s why I like Google’s speakers better than the Amazon Echo

google home mini The Google Home Mini in a Google-exclusive “coral red” color. Matt Weinberger/Business Insider

  • This holiday season, Google Home and Amazon Echo will be very popular gifts, with both companies releasing new products in the line.
  • Amazon Echo is great for Amazon fans, with a wide range of hardware and some nifty software.
  • But Google Home is better for most people — Google’s AI and ability to answer even weird questions makes all the difference.

This holiday season, the escalating war between Google and Amazon is coming to a store shelf near you.

Amazon will be pushing its revitalized line of Echo smart speakers, powered by the Alexa voice agent. That includes the ever-popular Echo Dot, now $40, a revamped $99 Echo, the $129 Echo Spot alarm clock, and more Alexa-powered gadgetry, besides.

In the other corner is Google, which is hyping up the $50 Google Home Mini, powered by its own Google Assistant. Also on offer: The original $129 Google Home, and, come December, the $400 block-rocking Google Home Max.

There are other options, sure. The Harman Kardon Invoke is powered by the Microsoft Cortana agent, for instance, while Apple’s Siri-powered HomePod will likely be on store shelves before Christmas.

But I’m here to make the case that it’s Google, and the Google Assistant, that reigns supreme. There are all kinds of little reasons I believe this, but there’s really one big one: Google Assistant is much smarter than Alexa, Siri, or pretty much anything else on the market today.

Here’s the skinny.

Amazon Alexa is good…

At the most basic level, Amazon Echo and Google Home can do most of the same things. You can set alarms and timers, play music, check your calendar, add items to your shopping list, get the weather, make phone calls, and control your smart-home gear.

Both products also carry some corporate synergies. With an Amazon Echo, you can shop on Amazon, control a Fire TV streaming box and listen to Amazon Prime Music; with a Google Home, you can control Chromecast streaming devices, access Google Play Music, and shop with Google partners like Target and Walmart. It’s a matter of taste.

amazon echo spot Checking your calendar with the Amazon Echo Spot Matt Weinberger/Business Insider

Amazon Alexa has been around for a little longer, and it shows in a few areas: Alexa supports a slightly wider range of smart home appliances, and sports nifty Echo-to-Echo voice and text messaging features. Plus, Amazon keeps releasing new and innovative Echo devices to showcase what Alexa can do. Google Assistant is adding new features to catch up all the time, Amazon has been relentless about improving Alexa.

Okay, so if the two devices are the same in so many ways, why do I like the Google Home better? Well, to answer that, I’m going to have to take a big step back and explain why I like the Google Assistant better than Amazon Alexa.

…but Google is smarter

Because it taps straight into Google’s base of knowledge, both global and personal, Google Assistant can answer lots of questions, even the really obscure ones. “OK Google, what day was the Battle of Hogwarts?”

Here’s a great example of how that translates into a more usable device. If you ask Amazon Alexa if your dog can eat tomatoes (or carrots, or cereal), it gives you a canned response with all sorts of things dogs shouldn’t eat. Ask Google Home if your dog can eat something, and it usually gives you a yes/no answer, with its source cited.

In general, the Amazon Echo can answer some basic questions (“When do the Yankees play next?”). But, despite Amazon’s efforts  to smarten Alexa up over the years, it tends to stumble over anything more complicated (“How do I get rid of a depleted fire extinguisher?”)

google home The $129 Google Home speaker. Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

If you ask a question Alexa doesn’t know, it nudges you towards “skills” that extend its knowledge and functionality — skills for recipes, for games, and trivia, and relaxation. Not every Alexa skill is great, though, and frankly, I don’t always remember which skill I need when I’m just trying to figure out a question.

And that smarts manifests itself in other ways, too. This goes back to those corporate synergies, but it’s nice to be able to say “OK Google, display my engagement photos on the bedroom TV,” and have it grab the relevant imagery from the Google Photos service, and use the Chromecast to put them up on the correct screen.

So, yeah, it’s a matter of taste, especially as more and more smart speakers come online. But in the battle between Amazon and Google, the artificial smarts really make all the difference.

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This GIF nails how the iPhone X could be the foundation for Apple’s rumored smart glasses

In case you haven’t noticed, Apple is slowly but surely pushing augmented reality into the mainstream.

But if you’re wondering how Apple can make the jump from something like the new iPhone X to a pair of smart glasses, this GIF nails how that evolution could take place:

This GIF was a concept made by Leo Costa, which he uploaded to the 3D-sketching “uMake” app for iPad. As you can tell from the GIF, Costa uses the same TrueDepth camera system from the iPhone X — with its front-facing camera and sensors to capture 3D information — to serve as the foundation for Apple’s augmented-reality (AR) smart glasses.

Augmented reality, for those unfamiliar, lets you see virtual images in the real world. As Paul Canetti put it so well recently, AR is like “photoshopping the whole world.” So if you look at the GIF, putting the TrueDepth camera system on the front of a pair of smart glasses would make a great deal of sense, since a pair of AR glasses would need to be able to capture depth information on an ongoing basis to work properly.

For over a year now, we’ve been hearing that Apple is working on a pair of AR smart glasses. Apple laid the foundation in June with the announcement of ARKit, which effectively baked augmented reality into iOS. A few months later, it announced the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, the first iPhones with the A11 Bionic chip that’s capable of producing more detailed AR experiences. Apple even showcased several AR demos at its September event.

Apple isn’t the only tech company invested in AR. Snapchat uses AR for its popular “Lens” feature, which adds special effects to your selfies. Microsoft also makes an AR headset, the HoloLens, which is currently available to developers. And Magic Leap, based in Florida, recently raised $502 million in October to bring its rumored AR glasses to life.

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First-day preorders for the iPhone X sell out in minutes, Apple says demand is ‘off the charts’

iphone x YouTube/MKBHD

  • The iPhone X became available for preorder early Friday morning.
  • Only people who ordered in the first few minutes will get their preorder the first day it comes out, though.
  • Apple stores will also have stock next Friday, though Apple advises to get in line “early.”

Apple’s most advanced iPhone saw its shipping times slip to weeks in the minutes after it first went up for preorder on Friday morning.

The iPhone X starts at $999 and comes in two colors, with each color coming in two models with different amounts of storage.

Less than an hour after launch, models for all four US carriers on Apple’s online store were showing delivery times weeks after the device’s November 3 launch date.

In some cases, Apple’s website now says the iPhone X would be delivered in “2-3 weeks.” Other people got confirmation messages that said their iPhone X wouldn’t ship for four to five weeks.

Some people on social media reported issues with the official Apple Store app, which Apple retail officials had called the fastest way to preorder. Carriers such as AT&T also appeared to have limited inventory.

In a statement sent to media outlets, an Apple spokesperson said that demand was “off the charts.”

“We’re working hard to get this revolutionary new product into the hands of every customer who wants one, as quickly as possible,” the statement continued, mentioning that Apple stores will have stock on November 3.

iPhone X preorders Screenshot

The iPhone X will be in short supply for the rest of the year, according to reports from Apple’s factories in Asia. The reason for the shortage is that several of Apple’s components, like the 3D True Depth camera, are delicate and difficult to manufacture.

One analyst predicted that only 2 million to 3 million iPhone X units would be shipped by launch time.

The iPhone X is desired by Apple fans for several reasons:

  • It’s Apple’s highest-end iPhone.
  • It features a visually different design from older iPhones.
  • The screen covers a much larger percentage of the front than that of older iPhones.
  • The screen uses a new technology called OLED that sports blacker blacks and other benefits.
  • It has a longer battery life than the iPhone 7.
  • It has a 3D depth-sensing camera on the front of the phone called TrueDepth.
  • TrueDepth is used to unlock the phone, taking the place of the fingerprint sensor.

If you weren’t lucky enough to nab a preorder, your best bet is to line up at an Apple store or another authorized retailer on Friday. Just get there early.

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Google had to disable a feature on its new $50 smart speaker after the gadget listened in on some users

google home miniThe Google Home Mini in a Google-exclusive “coral red” color.Matt Weinberger/Business Insider

Google rushed out a fix to a glitch in its latest smart speaker last week that caused the device to surreptitiously record the conversations of its early testers without their knowledge or consent.

The bug affected a small number of the Google Home Mini devices that the company handed out to reporters at its press event last week, according to Google. The company rolled out a software update over the weekend to address the issue on those devices and is exploring a long-term fix.

“We learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Mini devices that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly,” the company said in a statement, adding, “If you’re still having issues, please feel free to contact Google support.”

Google unveiled the $50 Mini, which goes on sale on October 19, at its event on Wednesday. Soon after, Android Police’s Artem Russakovskii, who was one of the reporters who received a test unit, discovered that his device was turning on by itself, recording his conversations, and uploading them to Google.

Normally, there are two ways to interact with Google’s smart speakers, including the Mini. You can say the words “OK Google,” followed by a command such as “play ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.'” Alternatively, you can press the button located on the top of the devices instead of saying “OK Google.”

But Russakovskii discovered that his Mini was listening in on him even when he hadn’t pressed the device’s button or said, “OK Google.” When he checked his personal activity page on Google, the site that shows users’ interactions with the search giant’s services and the data it collects on users, he found sound files that had been uploaded to Google’s servers from the Mini without his consent.

Google blamed the glitch on a faulty button in some of the units. The buttons on those Minis were detecting touches even when there was no touch to detect. Russakovskii apparently got one of the defective devices.

On October 7th, three days after it handed out the Mini review units, Google rolled out a software update that disables the button. The change affects every Mini it’s handed out, even those that weren’t malfunctioning. Meanwhile, the company says it’s deleted all the data recorded from alleged button pushes on the Mini review units — whether they were actual button pushes or not — from the time it handed out the devices to reviewers until it issued the update.

Ultimately, the problem appears to be a simple error, not a malicious act of spying. And the company is looking for a long-term solution.

But the glitch is one that Google would certainly have liked to have avoided for multiple reasons, as The Verge notes.

The bug could not only help undermine sales of the Mini but hamper Google’s broader effort to turn itself into a top-tier hardware maker. Smart speakers like the Mini rely on customers’ trust; it’s an act of faith for consumers to let Amazon or Google place a microphone in their houses. They generally expect the companies to only record them when they’re aware of it.

Worse, the nature of the glitch is likely to play into consumers’ worst fears about the search giant. Lots of people are already sensitive to the fact that Google is collecting tons of data on its customers. And the company has previously been taken to task for collecting data without consumers’ consent. Back in 2010, Google admitted its Google Maps Street View cars had been sucking up e-mails and passwords from unencrypted WiFi networks as the cars mapped neighborhoods around the country and world.

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Here’s everything Apple announced at its big iPhone launch event

Tim Cook Apple event iPhone XApple CEO Tim Cook and design chief Jony Ive display the new iPhone X.Justin Sullivan/Getty

Apple unveiled not one, but three new iPhones at its hardware event on Tuesday.

The iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus join a slew of new products and services from Apple, many of which are set to roll out as early as this Friday.

Along with the new phones, Apple announced its first foray into wireless charging, new facial-recognition technology, and a 4K Apple TV. Plus, Apple finally added a cellular connection to its new Apple Watch Series 3.

Here are all the things Apple announced at Tuesday’s event

Apple announced its latest and greatest iPhone, the iPhone X.

Apple announced its latest and greatest iPhone, the iPhone X.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

The new iPhone X — pronounced “iPhone ten” — features a strikingly different design from its predecessors like the iPhone 7. It has a 5.8-inch screen that Apple calls a “Super Retina Display,” which utilizes a superior screen technology called OLED. The iPhone X comes in just two colors for now: black, and white.

You can preorder the iPhone X on October 27. It ships on November 3, and has a starting price of $999 for 64GB of storage.

There are also two more new iPhones: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

There are also two more new iPhones: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

Apple

Like its predecessor the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 comes in two varieties: a standard 4.7-inch model, and a larger 5.5-inch “Plus” model. Apple is offering the two iPhone 8 models in three colors: silver, matte black, and a new gold color. Both the iPhone 8 and the 8 Plus have a glass back and both support the Qi wireless charging standard.

The iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus start at $699 and arrive on September 22.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is Apple’s third-generation smartwatch.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is Apple's third-generation smartwatch.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Apple Watch Series 3 is the first Apple Watch, and the first Watch with cellular built in. The watch can make and receive calls allowing you to leave your phone at home, and will have the same number as your iPhone. The new watch comes in three colors: a new gold aluminum finish, silver, and space gray.

Apple Watch Series 3 will be available to order on Friday and will start at $329 — the watch with cellular will cost $399. It will be available a week later, on September 22.

Apple is launching its own heart rate study for Apple Watch users.

Apple is launching its own heart rate study for Apple Watch users.

Apple

The new Apple Watch Series 3 will feature an enhanced heart rate app, watch will notify you when it detects an elevated heart rate specifically when you’re not active. The sensor will also be able to analyze heart rhythm, so Apple is launching the Apple Heart Study in partnership with Stanford University. The study will use data from Apple Watch to analyze cardiac arrhythmia and will be available on the App Store later this year.

There’s a new Apple TV that will stream video in ultra-sharp 4K resolution.

There's a new Apple TV that will stream video in ultra-sharp 4K resolution.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

The new Apple TV 4K will be able to stream 4K – or UHD (ultra high-definition) – resolution video, which is sharper than the full-HD 1080p resolution from previous Apple TV models. It will also support HDR (high dynamic range) to produce better colors and contrast between light and dark areas of a scene.

The Apple TV 4K will be able to stream live video, like sports, in 4K HDR from Apple TV apps. It will be available to buy for $179 and you can pre-order it starting on September 15 — it ships a week later.

Apple made its first wireless charging pad called AirPower.

Apple made its first wireless charging pad called AirPower.

Apple

AirPower is a wireless charging pad that will be large and powerful enough to charge your new iPhone — either the new iPhone 8 or the high-end iPhone X — as well as your Apple Watch Series 3 and AirPods at the same time.

Unfortunately, it sounds like AirPower won’t arrive until 2018. Apple must first work with the regulatory committee that oversees the Qi wireless charging standard to implement a new standard it developed for AirPower. Apple didn’t say how much AirPower would cost or when it will be available.

iOS 11 will arrive on your iPhone and iPad September 19.

iOS 11 will arrive on your iPhone and iPad September 19.

Apple

Apple’s smartphone operating system, iOS 11, will arrive on phones September 19. The new OS features person-to-person payments in Apple Pay, a refreshed Control Center, a revamped Apple Maps, support for augmented reality (AR) applications, and much more.

Apple’s smartwatch operating system, WatchOS 4, will also launch on the September 19.

MacOS High Sierra will be available to download on September 25.

MacOS High Sierra will be available to download on September 25.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Apple’s latest operating system for Mac laptops and desktops, MacOS High Sierra, will be available to download on Monday, September 25.

MacOS High Sierra will include “Autoplay Blocking,” which stops media from autoplaying across the internet; an improved Photos app; an overhauled core file system, support for high-end virtual reality; and more.

There’s a new system to unlock your iPhone X called FaceID.

There's a new system to unlock your iPhone X called FaceID.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Face ID is the new way to unlock your phone on the iPhone X. Face ID replaces Touch ID, which scans your fingerprint to unlock the iPhone. Since the new iPhone X doesn’t have a physical home button or a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, Face ID will be the only way to securely lock and unlock the iPhone X.

Apple says Face ID will be able to handle and recognize any changes to your face, like beards, different haircuts, and putting on or taking off glasses and hats. And the technology will recognize your face in the day and night time.

Animoji are animated emojis you can control with your face.

Animoji are animated emojis you can control with your face.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Animoji use Apple’s new facial recognition software to turn you into animated emojis that can make facial expressions and talk. There are a dozen different Animojis, including the monkey, panda, alien, and fox.

Changes are coming to Apple’s retail stores.

Changes are coming to Apple's retail stores.

Chris Hondros/Getty

Apple’s most famous store design feature will return late next year: The “cube” on 5th Avenue in New York City. Apple will open up its surrounding plaza and let light into the underground store. Apple is also opening a new flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Apple’s retail boss Angela Ahrendts also announced another feature coming to Apple stores called “Today at Apple,” which gives customers tips for their devices, such as how to take great photos with photo walks around the town. There are also classes where people can learn to code and teachers can learn about the latest education apps.

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