Blockchain against identity crisis. Pre-unicorn pitch decks. Meituan's got a brand new bike.

Yo dawg

Hi there,

It's that time of the year when we share the best, most honest Venn diagram ever created, courtesy of Thomson Reuters.

Who am I?

In a post-Cambridge-Analytica world, people want a better ability to preserve their online privacy and monitor organizations' access their data.

Blockchain might be able to help. We take a look at how the technology could be applied to help users authenticate and control their digital identities

Something I've struggled with

One of CB Insights' biggest marketing challenges (and one of my major personal shortfalls as CEO) has been around clearly educating our clients and prospective clients on how and why machines can synthesize, analyze, and visualize information better than a human analyst — or even an army of human analysts.

Known as Expert Automation & Augmentation Software, these AI applications are coming for "MBAs" (and other white-collar professionals) in everything from trading to wealth management to consulting to journalism.

It has already begun, as some of the headlines below highlight.

But despite the advances in machine intelligence and numerous domains that have shown the power of data, it remains tough to shake people's beliefs in the supremacy of human intellect for most tasks.

I've certainly had a hard time articulating this in a really compelling way.

One thing I found effective is below.

Humble beginnings

For most private tech companies, a key step on the journey to that magical $1B valuation is nailing a pitch to early investors, recruits, and customers.

We've compiled the early decks of 13 private or exited unicorn companies, from Airbnb to LinkedIn to WeWork. Check them out here.

Xzibit #1

Our team gets alerts on patents every day via our Patent Search Engine, and yesterday they spotted this winner from Facebook. 

Just read that title.

Or if reading patents isn't your thing, here you go:

A bicycle built for two

Chinese food-delivery giant Meituan-Dianping is acquiring Mobike, one of China's leading bike-sharing companies. Both are backed by Tencent Holdings, and this deal will intensify Tencent's rivalry with Alibaba.

While Mobike and Alibaba-backed Ofo are expanding overseas, startups like Limebike and JUMP Bikes are bringing the dockless model to US universities and dense city settings. We take a look at the trend here.

The War & Peace hack

So back to my earlier point on shaking people's belief in the power of human intellect.

We recently ingested earnings transcripts for 10 years and 6,500 public companies on the CB Insights platform.

And when we issued our FAMGA earnings call report (Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon) analyzing 40 quarters of calls for tech's big 5, a few clients said they prefer to have their analysts read earnings transcripts to pick up on the nuances.


When I initially tried to convince them of the superiority of machines here, I got some nods of agreement, but I never felt like they were convinced.

And then we tried this.

We compared the 1.17 million words in these 40 quarters of earnings transcripts to notable books.

Once I showed them that this type of analysis is the equivalent of their analysts reading "War and Peace" twice or reading "The Odyssey" 9.5x, it dawned on them that this is not something their analysts are made for (nor is it a good use of their time).

So I'm curious. 

For those of you trying to change a behavior in a material way with your product, how have you had success doing this? 

Especially when you are trying to get someone to go from an "analog" to "digital" process, and they don't know/understand the benefits of the digital process, and they have years of experience doing it the analog way.

I'll share any interesting "hacks" folks have come up with in a future newsletter (with or without credit, depending on your preference).

Look forward to hearing from you.

Alpha the killer robot

With secretive big data company Palantir in the headlines lately, this week’s podcast looks back at the conversation that co-founder Joe Lonsdale’s had with FT’s Robin Wigglesworth last year.

They talked about Alpha the killer robot, which industry is jealous of the intelligence community’s “James Bond stuff,” and what Lonsdale expects the job market to be like when his infant daughter enters the workforce.

We also dropped in a $500 discount code for this year’s Future of Fintech conference. Listen here. Or find us on iTunes (CB Insights).

Revolving door: employee-founder-rich employee

A CBI Councils member shared a career advancement strategy that had become part of his highly-acquisitive company’s culture.

It went like this: find a gap in the company’s product strategy, quit, found a startup that fills the gap, sell the startup to the company, then settle back in as a wealthy employee.

Councils members heard how the company retooled its strategy to better position itself for the future and leave fewer gaps vulnerable to disruption — or roundtrip-ing.

Councils are for SVPs and up from companies with $1B+ in revenue. Apply to join here.

The Industry Standard

CB Insights data is the most trusted by those in the industry and the media. A few recent hits.

Bloomberg. Tim Culpan (@tculpan) writes about Meituan-Dianping’s acquisition of Mobike and cites CB Insights research.
CNNMoney. Michelle Toh (@michelletoh235) reports on the Meituan-Dianping/Mobike deal and refers to CB Insights data.
Fox Business. Jade Scipioni (@jadescipioni) discusses Amazon and Alibaba’s battle over market share in India and cites CB Insights research.

I love you.


P.S. Join us tomorrow for a 15-minute flash briefing on the disruption of the luxury industry. Sign up here.

The Blurb

A curated mix of articles worth sharing.

Clap back. China is planning to impose a 25% tariff on major US exports, including planes, cars, and soybeans.
Play my “Nailed It” playlist. Spotify closed its first day of trading on the NYSE with a $26.5B valuation.
New York Times
YouTube. The woman identified as the shooter at YouTube’s headquarters alleged that the company “discriminated and filtered” her videos.
Let’s talk. Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11.
Pause for effect. Microsoft says it has developed a new way for its AI-powered bots to predict pauses in speech and know when it’s appropriate to interrupt.

Sweet pain. Rina Raphael (@rrrins) interviews Inge Theron, founder of a new gym that focuses exclusively on the face muscles.
Fast Company
Go to print. MX3D is creating the first 3D-printed steel bridge.
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