Corporate innovation labs. Robots take on R&D. What is 5G?

Defense against the dark arts


Remember Cambridge Analytica? The very sketchy data firm is back in the news this week for its involvement in the 2016 US presidential elections, fraud allegations against its founder, and more (see This Week in Data, below).

But there’s more to this story than just massive data leaks and political skulduggery. Cambridge Analytica’s approach was based on something called psychographics.

This strategy involves using massive datasets to group people into psychological groups, is at the cutting-edge of digital marketing and personalization, and is widely used already by companies large and small.

Psychographics is a powerful tool when used correctly, but it also has potential for abuse. 

We dig into psychographics and the future of persuasion, in our latest deep dive, What Is Psychographics? Understanding The ‘Dark Arts’ Of Marketing That Brought Down Cambridge Analytica.

Our own psychographic data shows that people who enjoy reading the above will also enjoy reading Memes that Kill: The Future of Information Warfare.

What's the big idea?

If established companies want to stay relevant in the face of disruption, innovation is crucial. 

From Microsoft to Unilever to Caterpillar, we examine 70 innovation labs that are working on new ideas, producing new technologies, and propelling their companies into the future.

American psycho(graphics)

Psychographics goes beyond classifying people based on demographic data like age, gender, or race — it focuses on customer emotions, values, attitudes, and other psychological factors.

This could transform how marketers influence decision-making — and critics say it could take a dystopian turn. Our new explainer digs into how psychographics is used, its impact, the likelihood of regulation, and more

Robots & development

Every year, major corporations pour billions of dollars into R&D. General Motors alone spent $8B+ last year.

Enter technology.

From robotics to 3D printing to AR/VR, we look at how tech is broadening talent pools, speeding up product development, and revamping the modeling process to make R&D less costly. Check it out here.

Meet? Neat.

People like to meet each other at conferences. We can’t make people meet with you, but we can make it easy for you to find each other and schedule time. 

Our event app and networking feature at Future of Fintech (June 19 - 21) let you easily sort through and schedule 1:1 meetings with other VCs, corporations, startup founders, and hedge funds. Twenty-one meetings have already been booked.

Get your tickets today. Save $500 with code tonsofmeetings.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. On June 12, we'll be discussing emerging trends in energy. Register for the briefing here.

This week in data:

  • 550,000+: At its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this week, Apple announced some of its latest podcast-related milestones. Currently, iTunes hosts more than 550,000 active shows — up from the 525K shows reported in April, and a huge leap from the initial 3K shows it hosted when the program launched in 2005. Today, iTunes hosts 18.5M individual episodes representing 155 countries and 100+ languages. Here’s our contribution: the CB Insights Podcast, “A Conversation With…,” features insightful interviews with top executives, VCs, and industry leaders in the tech world. Check us out on iTunes here, or on Podbean here

  • 5th-gen: Former Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs is starting a new company focused on 5G, working with former Qualcomm president Derek Aberle and former Qualcomm CTO Matthew Grob. The startup engineering company, XCOM, will focus on technology solutions to 5G problems like low latency. We dig into other key technologies needed to pave the way to 5G — like fiber-optic cables and a network of small cells — in our new explainer, What is 5G?

  • 10%: Meditation app 10% Happier raised $3.7M in seed funding earlier this week, bringing its total disclosed funding to $5.1M. The app offers “no BS” meditation courses geared towards skeptics of the practice. We recently highlighted 10% Happier in our mental health market map, which features 50+ startups working across mental health categories including digital therapeutics, mental wellness and brain training, telemedicine, and more. Clients can view the full map here.

  • $1B: Leading digital currency exchange Coinbase has announced it will acquire securities dealer Keystone Capital Corp. in hopes of expanding into the coin-offerings market. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. For Coinbase, which currently trades only some of the largest cryptocurrencies, acquiring those licenses could open new business opportunities and even pave the way to products tied to stocks or other securities. For more on Coinbase, check out our Coinbase Strategy Teardown, which details what the company does and how it grew to $1B in revenue.

  • $30M: Israel-based healthcare AI startup Zebra Medical Vision raised a $30M Series C in a round led by aMoon Partners, with participation from Khosla Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Marc Benioff, and others. The startup offers a medical imaging insights platform that allows research groups to collaborate and create joint tools. We recently dove into the healthcare AI space to see what categories are attracting the most deals, from imaging & diagnostics to clinical trials & drug discovery. Clients can view our AI in Healthcare Heatmap here.

  • 18 hr 45 min: Singapore Airlines announced that it will bring back its nonstop flight from Newark to Singapore starting in October. Covering 10,000 miles in 18 hours and 45 minutes, the route will become the world’s longest flight. The airline first offered the EWR > SIN route in 2004, but stopped flying the route in 2013 following a surge in oil prices. We recently held a flash briefing on the technology reinventing the airport — if you missed it, you can get the slides and recording here.

  • $8M: Among other allegations, former head of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix, who appeared before Parliament in the UK this week, is accused of taking $8M from the tech firm before it collapsed. He denied the allegations when testifying in Parliament, but former employees are still embroiled in charges including ties to Wikileaks, improper data harvesting, bribery attempts, and more.
  • 1 in 5: Opioids are now involved in 1 in 5 deaths of young adults ages 24 – 35 in the US, according to a new study. This represents a sharp uptick from 2016 figures, where 1 in 65 young adult deaths were opioid-related. With opioid deaths at record highs, we looked at which companies are talking the most about opioids on earnings calls.
  • 1st: A one-year-old baby in the UK said “Alexa” as his first word. According to parents Lottie Ledger and Mark Brady, baby Joe interacted with the Amazon device at his grandparents’ house, and said “Alexa” before even saying mom or dad. Priorities.
One more thing...

Meet Bad Dog, the brainchild of Industrial Design graduate student Zhang Jianming, designed to provide robot companionship to China's lonely singles.

Census results showed that one-person households accounted for more than 14% of all households in China in 2013. Zhang believes that China's tech advances have left people feeling isolated, so he created Bad Dog to help them feel more connected.

Bad Dog is equipped with features to monitor its owner's vital signs and body temperature, which it uses to assess the owner's mood so it can respond appropriately.

Its head and face have sensors that can detect petting. If the dog determines that its owner isn't interacting with it enough, or if the owner mistreats it by cursing or hitting or letting its battery die too frequently, Bad Dog can retaliate. Its eyes will become "angry red lights," and if the offense is great enough, it can approach the owner and deliver an electric shock.

Zhang is currently working on the second generation of the Bad Dog Project, which will be better equipped to determine exactly how affectionate its owner is. Meanwhile, he's looking for investors to bring Bad Dog into mass production.
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