Words of wisdom. Saudi Arabia's investments. The coolest new candy.

Pumpkin spice skepticism

Hi there,

It finally feels like fall in NYC, so pumpkin spice flavored products have taken over, as they do every year.

Surprisingly, pumpkin spice is not mentioned nearly as much as we would have thought in company earnings calls, but when it is, it's in Q4 (October-December).

Love, Jeff

Reading Jeff Bezos' annual letter to Amazon shareholders is basically a crash course in running a high-growth internet business from someone who mastered it before any of the playbooks were written.

We analyze the letters and unpack the most important lessons in each one. Read them all here.

(GIF source: Tenor)

Competition? Why yes, I would love some

You’ve probably been hearing lately that the US share of VC is declining. This is a non-story.

The US was the only real VC scene for a long time — its share could only decline. Meanwhile, funding in the US remains very high. Silicon Valley hitting a peak has been a popular narrative we’ve seen every year.

It’s also worth noting that the rise of other regions has not been widespread or evenly distributed. China is a powerhouse in tech/VC investing, but Europe and the US outside of Silicon Valley (and a few other notable markets) are total snooze fests.

All those articles you see about the US heartland being the next hub of tech innovation are great PR by investors, which have an interest in perpetuating that narrative.

Yes, there’s more going on there now and it’s great to see, but let’s be real — they are nothing burgers right now.

More on that below.

I want candy

Halloween candy sales are projected to hit $2.6B this year. While classics like M&Ms, Hersheys, and Twix still dominate, old and new players have some surprising confections in the works.

From craft chocolate to cannabis-infused gum, we take a look at 80+ companies disrupting your trick-or-treating experience.

Grain of salt time

Folks should exercise a bit more skepticism when they see posts about how the US is losing its VC dominance.

Look at who’s quoted — it’s always the same people — and evaluate if the commentary and data analysis are rigorous and balanced or just data used to drive an agenda.

A lot of this is the media taking the information and writing “the sky is falling” headlines, but it’s still always worth considering the source.

If CB Insights starts the Center for Data Driving All Decisions and we issue a study saying that if you don’t use our data, your company will likely go bankrupt in the next 6 months, you should be skeptical (at least a little).

 Wait til I get my money right

Payments tech startups have raised a whopping $30B since 2014, and with online shopping booming and more businesses using online payments, they're gaining ground on incumbents.

From bank APIs to the point-of-sale, we map out 125+ companies transforming the payments space. Clients with Expert Intelligence can see them all here.

Troubled times

Saudi Arabia has gotten a lot of news attention recently, following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now a number of big corporates are backing out of the country's Future Investment Initiative.

The controversy comes at a time when the Kingdom's investment activity has increased considerably.

We outline its tech investments over the last five years, including PIF, the Saudi Royal Family, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Kingdom Holding Company. See them all here.

To clarify

Since I may get some grief from folks saying I’m some kind of Silicon Valley fanboy, remember:

  1. CB Insights is in NYC.

  2. We poke at SV’s inanity all the time in our newsletter.

  3. If tech/investing gets more global, it’s great for our business. I hope it happens.

  4. If VC's center of gravity has shifted a bit from SV and the US, this is one of the US' best exports, i.e., entrepreneurship, risk-taking, using technology to solve intractable problems, etc.  

Finally, here’s some data and a free report on 25 global tech hubs outside of Silicon Valley.

BTW, a lot of these newer regions have spent time developing a seed/early-stage ecosystem. That’s necessary, but it’s not sufficient because there is no talent or funding as they scale.

That’s when SV investors come in, and also when cos relocate to SV, NYC, etc.

You're going to need a bigger cart

Instacart just raised a $600M round of funding, bringing its valuation to $7.6B. The delivery service startup is quickly gaining popularity, positioning itself as a necessity for grocery retailers trying to compete with Amazon.

Instacart now partners with 300+ retailers across 4,000 North American cities. We take a look at some of them here.

 Hot wheels

Tires account for roughly a third of an electric vehicle's energy consumption — which means they're in need of an upgrade.

We explore how companies are redesigning tires to make them more energy efficient. Expert Intelligence clients can read more here.

The secret to scaling

At TRANSFORM (Dec 4- 5), we’ll walk you through finding ideas and developing them into robust business units.

Execs from GE Ventures, Avis Budget Group, Fidelity Labs, and Ping An Technology will take the stage to help you address scale and incubating new businesses.

Use the code SCALE to get $750 off your pass to TRANSFORM.

The Industry Standard

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

Entrepreneur. This article lists 11 recommended newsletters for entrepreneurs and includes the CB Insights newsletter.

Quartz. Michael J. Coren (@mj_coren) discusses the state of electric flying vehicles and refers to CB Insights research.

VentureBeat. Felix von Heland provides tips on how to get hardware products to market and references CB Insights research.

I love you.


P.S. This Thursday, we'll be discussing the future of real estate tech. Register for the briefing here.

The Blurb

A curated mix of articles worth sharing.

Multitasking. A group of scientists have created a Fortnite Squad to combat climate change.
The Verge

Growing the future. Mushrooms might be the key to building everything from lab meat to 3D-printed organs to biofabricated leather.
Fast Company

Art & commerce. Big brands like PepsiCo and Nike are making huge investments in art and artists — and it’s causing some tension in the art world.
The Atlantic

Of mice and stems. With gene editing and stem cells, researchers in China have helped mice of the same sex reproduce.
National Geographic

Reap what you sow. America’s first autonomous robot farm launched last week.
The Guardian
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