So many unicorns. Big, fat failure. Ikea for birds.

Hard-hitting questions


Last night we had our fifth 2019 biweekly research team Happy Hour. I brought up with the team how I have interviewed hundreds of job applicants over my 4 years at CB Insights, and how I was bored with my interview questions. 

The team suggested a few that (at the time) I thought were worth writing down. This baker's dozen are free, but if you reply with your favorites I will include some in a future newsletter. 

  • What is your spirit animal and why?
  • What is your favorite ninja turtle and why?
  • What’s your favorite piece of CB Insights research and why?
  • Tell me about a time you were humble 
  • What’s your karaoke go-to?
  • If you could identify with a specific cheese (I was cautioned to be explicit that non-dairy and vegan cheese options were OK), which one would it be and why?
  • Teach me something. You have 10 minutes.
  • Tell me about the last time you did something that scared you. 
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What bores you?
  • What are you interested in that other people think is boring?
  • Pitch me one idea to make CB Insights better
  • If your life was a movie, what would it be called?

If you are interviewing for one of our 26 open jobs, start prepping your answers please. I already deployed a few of these in my 4 candidate interviews today. :) 

BTW, I will be on vacation next week in Colombia, so you won't hear from me. Oh, and some of you wrote to inform me that you do not like that my salutation is in Spanish, so this shot of what it will be like for me in Colombia is for you.

Also, in case you were wondering, my spirit animal is an armadillo. CB Insights co-founder Jon Sherry was kind enough to share with me that it's the only animal known to spread leprosy to humans. Thank you, Jon.

Unicorns are all around

There are 326 unicorn companies on the planet right now. These startups are worth a total of $1.1T and have raised over $271B combined.

From healthcare to e-commerce to auto tech, we've mapped out all of the world's $1B+ companies. You can see them here.

Expensive mistakes

It's tough out there in the world of startups. The harsh reality is most startups don't make it, and failure is not cheap.

From Munchery to Theranos to eToys, we take a look at 159 of the most expensive startup failures of all time. See them all here.

 You're an asset to the company

Asset and investment management companies made 335 acquisitions in 2018, a record high for the industry.

We take a closer look at the top 10 asset managers by assets under management, how their acquisitions are expanding their client bases, and more. Expert Intelligence clients can read about it here.

A lot on my plate

WeWork has been busy lately. The company reportedly raised $341M last week for WeWork Property Investors, the fund it uses for real estate acquisitions.

It also announced today that it's launching a co-working space for food startups as part of a new accelerator program.

We dig into WeWork's business strategy and other ventures here.

 Find your center

With over 175 zettabytes of data expected by 2025, data centers are only becoming more important.

But many of today's data centers are inefficient and outdated. So data center operators, including big tech cos, are working to upgrade them. 

We take a look at how data centers operate, how they're evolving, and more. Clients can read about it here.


Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. On March 26, we'll be discussing payments trends to watch. Sign up for the briefing here.

This week in data:

  • $33K: Luxury car-maker Bugatti has announced a kid-friendly electric vehicle to celebrate its 110th anniversary. At $33,000, the vintage race car-inspired Bugatti Baby II will sell for a price on par with Tesla's Model 3, which starts at $35,000. Automakers are placing big bets on electric vehicles. Expert Intelligence clients can see where they're placing their bets here.

  • 30: This week marked the 30 year anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee’s paper on “Information Management” which eventually led to the creation of a public internet (and enabled the growth of today’s tech giants). Originally intended to help facilitate file sharing between scientists at CERN, the proposal was dubbed “vague, but exciting” by the web pioneer’s supervisor. We investigated the ongoing battle for internet domination in a brief on the global cloud market.

  • 2.5x: Researchers at IBM have developed a new way to test for Alzheimer's. The study used machine learning to identify abnormal concentrations of certain proteins that indicate a person is 2.5x more likely to develop the neurodegenerative disease. The company says that its approach could help predict risk with a 77% accuracy. Expert Intelligence clients can read about how big pharma is using partnerships to develop treatments for Alzheimer's.
  • 20%: The UK parliament voted against Theresa May’s Brexit deal last Tuesday. The UK is now left with only 15 days until the legal deadline for leaving the EU, with the possibility that the government will request an extension for further negotiation. Meanwhile, London-based real estate platform Nested laid off 20% of its staff due to “Brexit uncertainty.”
  • $32B: Boeing's 737 Max airliner has been grounded across the world after the model was involved in 2 crashes within 5 months. The plane is one of Boeing’s most successful products, with around 5,000 outstanding orders. Southwest Airlines currently has the largest 737 Max fleet, with 34 now-grounded planes in operation, and had plans to purchase 280 more. Boeing’s share price has tumbled since the most recent crash, wiping around $32B off the company’s value.

  • 100%: The US is set to introduce facial recognition tech into 20 airports by 2021, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Center and reported by Buzzfeed. The stated goal is to use facial recognition on 100% of international passengers, potentially affecting 16,300 flight per week. We highlighted well-funded facial recognition companies in 2019’s AI 100.

  • 6 years: Amazon is reportedly no longer prohibiting third-party merchants from selling their goods on other websites for a lower price. The practice had attracted criticism from competition advocates. The online giant dropped the requirement in the EU almost 6 years ago amidst investigations from local competition regulators.
  • 31.4T: Today is pi day (3/14), the annual celebration of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Marking the occasion, Google announced that it had calculated pi to a rather fitting 31.4T decimal places, setting a new record and outstripping the previous best by 9T digits.
One more thing...

IKEA via Fast Company

Ikea is using its recycled furniture to build homes for wild animals outside of London.

The project is called Wildhomes for WIldlife, and transforms tables, lamps, and chairs into nests and houses for birds, bats, bees, squirrels, and more.

The pieces were designed by a group of set designers, artists, graphic designers, and architects.
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