Online brands slay. Factories go digital. We can't all be unicorns. 

Let's talk about the 1%


Of the five new unicorn startups birthed this week, three came from outside the United States. This includes Rappi, which is Colombia's first unicorn. 

In fact, the internationalization of the unicorn list is a trend this year. Of 63 private companies reaching "unicorn" valuations of $1B+ this year, 38 — or nearly two-thirds — of them came from outside the US. And 78% emerged from outside Silicon Valley. 

We've shown in our Global Tech Hubs report that metros such as Beijing and Shanghai are emerging as spawning grounds of large companies. 

In fact, our data shows that 29% of unicorns today are based in China.

That doesn't mean Silicon Valley is losing its magic per se, it's just not the one-and-only.

Housing costs don't help, given the median price for a one-family home in the Bay Area is nearly $1M (see This Week In Data below). As The Economist quoted one investor saying, "How are you supposed to have a startup in a garage when the house costs a million dollars?" 

Corporations looking to build partnerships with startups/entrepreneurs need to look way beyond Silicon Valley. 

May the odds be ever in your favor

We all know that most startups fail — but looking at the data of 1,100+ startups from seed investment onward puts it all into an even harsher perspective.

Only 48% raised a second round of funding, and a mere 15% went on to raise a fourth. And the chances of reaching unicorn status? Not great.

See all the metrics that our VC funnel sussed out here

 The category is: online-first realness

The retail apocalypse has already claimed fashion retailers like American Apparel and True Religion, and now H&M is showing signs of a slowdown.

But while brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling, online-first fashion brands are flourishing. We take a look at how they're appealing to shoppers and what other fashion retailers can learn from them.

Clients can check it out here.

Digital takeover

Despite accounting for 11.7% of US GDP, manufacturing remains an area of relatively low digitization — but new technology is starting to cause major changes in the space.

We take a deep dive into how each step of the manufacturing process is being transformed.

 Prescription: a healthy dose of technology

The pharmaceutical supply chain is complicated and overcrowded, with a host of intermediaries standing between drug manufacturers and patients.

Now startups are using technology to simplify processes at every level of the supply chain. Clients can read more here.

Don't miss this deadline

CB Insights' Fintech 250 recognizes the top 250 private companies changing the face of financial services around the world.

If this sounds like your company, apply for the 2018 list today. Applications will be accepted until September 25.

The price is right

We’re just getting started, but the TRANSFORM lineup is already stacked. We’ve got speakers from companies ranging from travel to finance to chocolate, including ADP, Ferrero, JetBlue, and more.

TRANSFORM is for growth-focused executives from companies with $1B+ in revenue and public company board members looking to understand the principles behind corporate innovation strategy.

Prices go up TOMORROW, so register today for the absolute lowest prices. Group discounts are available.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. On September 13, we'll be discussing the rise of smart cities. Sign up here to join us at the briefing.

This week in data:

  • 46%: A median-priced home in the San Francisco Bay Area costs $940,000, or 4.5x the American average, The Economist reported this week. A family earning less than $120,000 per year in that area is considered "low income." People are being priced out of Silicon Valley as a result. In a recent survey by the Bay Area Council, 46% of Bay Area residents said they plan to leave "in the next few years." We discuss how urban areas like San Francisco are responding to housing shortages and reimagining city living in our Future of Housing report.

  • $30M: E-cigarette maker JUUL’s latest feature? It’ll help you quit JUUL. According to chief product officer James Monsees, the company plans to release a connected device in 2019. It will include a usage-tracking feature that will allow consumers to decide how they want to use the product, and also help them if they want to quit. The company also said it will invest $30M to educate the public on responsible adult e-cigarette use. We recently discussed a number of JUUL-related issues — usage by teens, the possibility of expanding into cannabis, a patent for a JUUL app that potentially acts as a social network — in our weekly digital health newsletter. Sign up for it here.

  • 5: The number of new unicorns minted in the past week. The newest inductees of the global unicorn club span industries to include Colombian grocery delivery app Rappi, Indian B2B e-commerce platform Udaan, Chinese plastic surgery-focused marketplace and social network Xinyang Technology, American online gaming platform Roblox, and American digital operations management platform PagerDuty. You can track all the latest unicorns here.

  • 43% vs. 54%: Athletic apparel retailer Nike made waves this week when it launched its new Just Do It campaign featuring NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick became a national figure in 2016, when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the US. According to a recent poll of 900 US voters by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, Americans are split on the issue: 43% of Americans find Kaepernick’s actions “appropriate,” vs. 54% who don’t. Divided across party lines, there’s a much starker difference: a majority of 72% of Democrats think the kneel protest is appropriate, while only 10% of Republicans agree. We covered the potential effects of Nike and other company’s forays into the political sphere — clients can read about it here
  • $2.4B/day: Amazon hit a $1T valuation this week, becoming the second company to do so, after Apple. It took the tech giant 165 trading days to reach the 13-figure benchmark from its $600B valuation in January. (In other words, it grew at an average of $2.4B per trading day.) Together, Amazon and Apple now make up over 8% of the entire value of the S&P 500. Our Amazon research covers everything from Amazon’s moves in financial services to how the company aims to transform the healthcare space. See it all here.

  • $5M: Theranos, the blood-testing company accused of years of fraud, is officially shutting down, as first reported by the WSJ earlier this week. The company apparently sought additional investment and reached out to more than 80 potential buyers, but was unable to close a deal. A letter from the company’s general counsel says it will distribute its remaining cash (roughly $5M) to its unsecured creditors. This comes after Theranos raised some $500M over the course of its lifetime.
  • +4.1%: Ford reported a nearly 4.1% rise in its US auto sales last month, buoyed in part by a large 20.1% increase in its SUV sales as well as a 5.7% uptick in pickup trucks. Competitor Toyota had a less successful month, reporting a 2% decline in its total sales, though its SUV sales were also up nearly 9%. Ford and Toyota are both highlighted in our recent report examining 46 corporations working on autonomous vehicles, from Amazon to ZF. Read more here.

  • 13 years: A stolen pair of Judy Garland’s iconic ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz has been recovered. The FBI unveiled the sparkling shoes Tuesday, after seizing them in a sting operation in Minneapolis earlier this summer. The slippers were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN, 13 years ago. While the slippers have finally (like Dorothy) made their way home, the investigation is ongoing.
One more thing...

After five years of planning, The Ocean Cleanup is set to launch its beta cleanup system in the Pacific Ocean this weekend.

Its floater works like a giant aquatic Roomba. At nearly 2,000 feet long, it can collect around five tons of ocean plastic per month.

The organization plans to monitor the beta's performance, then expand to an improved fleet of 60+ units in the ocean in a year and a half.

The Ocean Cleanup is targeting the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is 1,000+ nautical miles from the launch point. It plans to cut the patch in half over the next five years, and reduce it by 90% by 2040.

The fleet will need to collect roughly 14,000 tons per year to meet the goal.
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