The future of food. How Uber makes money. Buildings get smart.

He's making a list


Robinhood, known mainly as a zero-fee stock trading app, shocked the consumer banking world today, announcing checking and debit accounts that will pay a 3% annual interest fee. 

That's 1 percentage-point better than Marcus, Goldman Sachs' consumer finance arm.

Banks should be scared of Robinhood's gumption in one-upping them. The high interest rate being offered plays well among thrifty millennials.

Critics were quick to howl that paying these high interest rates would not be sustainable. But they are missing the point. 

Like Amazon some years ago, which lost money on free shipping to grow its customer base, Robinhood is playing the long game. It sees a world in which it will have the scale and diversification to take profits from the sheer amount of financial activity it's channeling. 

Robinhood is also able to use tactics like waiting lists to drive viral uptake of its new products. Consider that just three hours after its announcement there were already 100K+ people signed up on the wait list for the new account offering. 

Robinhood was at the top of our list of fintech companies going after debit cards and checking accounts. You can see the complete list here.

Your driver is here

Uber isn't your typical startup.

While most software companies stress the importance of retention, Uber's driver churn rate has reportedly reached nearly 13% monthly. And while it's known primarily as a ride-hailing company, its most profitable unit is Uber Eats.

As the company prepares for a 2019 IPO, we dig into how it makes money, where it spends it, and what its next moves are. Download the report here.

Food of the future

From pop-up retail to inventory management robots to D2C distribution, our latest NExTT report digs into the top 20 trends that are transforming the food & beverage space.

Download the full report here.


Millions of buildings are unintelligent, energy inefficient, and difficult to work with — but making them smarter, cleaner, and safer is a complex process that requires new technology and data.

Now startups are stepping up. From connectivity to rating systems to HVAC, we take a look at 55+ companies helping cities give their buildings an upgrade for the digital age. Expert Intelligence clients can see them here.

Show me the money

Uber's costs are high, but its revenues are efficient and growing. The company's net revenue per quarter hit $2.95B in Q3'18.

We take a closer look at Uber's ride/fee distribution, revenue bets, and much more here.

 A bug's death

Giants in the pest control industry are snapping up private companies as they look to enter new markets and expand their services.

The commercial and residential pest control space has seen 63 M&As already in 2018 — the highest in the last decade.

We take a look at top acquirers in the space, patent application activity, and more. Expert Intelligence clients can read about it here.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. On December 18, we'll be discussing food and grocery trends to watch in 2019. Register for the briefing here.

This week in data:

  • 2: Two new companies joined the unicorn club this week. South Korean Viva Republica, which runs payments startup Toss among other fintech apps, reached a $1.2B valuation. This follows an $80M Series D to Viva backed by KPCB and Ribbit Capital, among others. It is the 5th unicorn to come out of South Korea. California-based Plaid is this week’s other unicorn: the API for financial service app developers hit a $2.65B valuation after a $250M Series C from a16z, Goldman, Index Ventures, Mary Meeker, NEA, and Spark Capital.
  • 50: Apple has hired up to 50 doctors in recent years — but it’s keeping that on the down-low, with many physicians not disclosing their role at the company. A LinkedIn search for physicians at Apple only yielded 20 doctors, though CNBC reports that as many as 50 doctors work there. The doctors are reportedly spread across the organization, working on things like health sensors for Apple Watch and health records management. You can download our briefing on Apple’s Strategy in Healthcare — which looks at existing partnerships, Apple’s research initiatives, medical devices, potential future areas of interest, and more — here.

    Top 5: Google released its 2018 Year in Search this week. The top 5 most searched terms globally were: World Cup, Avicii, Mac Miller, Stan Lee, and Black Panther. In the US, the most searched-for songs were “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “This Is America,” and “Baby Shark,” and the #1 “What is…?” query was “What is Bitcoin?” If you’re still asking this question, you can check out our explainer, What Is Blockchain Technology?

    $100M: Beauty brand Glossier will make over $100M in revenue this year, according to founder and CEO Emily Weiss. The company, which launched in 2010 as a beauty blog, sells almost exclusively online and is known for its millennial-friendly branding. It has raised $87M in total disclosed funding from investors including Index Ventures, Thrive Capital, and Forerunner Ventures, among others. We listed Glossier in our roundup of top beauty brand M&A targets. CBI clients can see the full list here.
  • 1,415: Instacart announced this morning that it will part ways with Whole Foods, the organic grocery chain purchased by Amazon last year, as of February 10, 2019. Notably, Amazon offers its own grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh. Instacard reportedly has 1,415 Instacart couriers at 76 Whole foods locations, including 243 who deliver groceries exclusively from Whole Foods. We look at other retailers using Instacart here.

  • $13: Tencent Music Entertainment Group went public yesterday, pricing its IPO at the low end of expectations at $13 per share (the bottom of its $13 – $15 range). The offering raised roughly $1.1B. Despite the lower initial pricing, the music arm of the Chinese tech giant closed its first day up 9%, at $14.19 per share. Parent company Tencent owns 58% of the music division, while Spotify (which also went public earlier this year), owns 9% of shares.
  • 65.4%: For some US companies, ‘tis not the season. Despite a strong economy, only 65.4% of US companies are planning to hold a holiday party this year — down from 72.7% last year and 76% in 2016 — given concerns about bad behavior ranging from over-indulgence in alcohol to sexual harassment. 
  • 5000x: This week saw a new record for the world’s fastest animal: the Dracula ant, or Mystrium camillae, which can snap its jaw shut 5000x faster than the blink of an eye. Its jaws go from 0 to about 200 mph in 0.000015 seconds. Found in Australia, the ant sucks the blood of its larvae for food, hence its vampire namesake.

    Royal Society Open Science

  • 102: At 102 years old, Australian woman Irene O’Shea has become the world’s oldest skydiver. She’s been skydiving ever since her 100th birthday. This year, she skydived to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association of South Australia, in honor of her daughter, who died of the disease. She jumped from 14,000 feet, falling at 136 mph until the parachute deployed. Friends and family, including her great-grandchildren, greeted her on the ground.
One more thing...

Primal Palate

Baltimore-based spice company McCormick, the maker of Old Bay seasoning, is suing Primal Palate for trademark infringement over its product New Bae.

New Bae is a spice blend similar to Old Bay, with celery seed, black pepper, and cardamom among their shared ingredients.

Primal Palate makes organic spices and focuses on consumers who follow the paleo diet. The company says New Bae was "a nod to Old Bay" and wasn't intended to "create a replication" of the classic spice blend.
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