Raspberry Pi vs Tesla Model S. Go-Jek's new valuation. Soylent raises.

Ok ok: AI is eating the world. But this “AI for X” trend may already have gone too far. Our analysts have combed through our platform and ID’d a number of startups applying AI in ways that range from decidedly in the “first world problems” category, to some that just had us saying “huh?”

  • AI for marijuana: PotBot is your “virtual budtender,” picking the right medical cannabis strains for you. Presumably in case you are too stoned to do the cognitive lifting yourself.
  • AI for beer brewing: IntelligentX brewing company claims to have made the first beer brewed by AI. Customer feedback will be “used by our algorithm to brew the next batch.” Call me cynical, but given there are 1,200 beer companies in our platform alone, I doubt AI is needed to create a new variety?

  • AI for Roti: Rotimatic is a roti maker equipped with "patented AI technology," priced at a very accessible $999. But it must be worth it since it "adapts to every doughball's characteristics." This is also known as the Juicero of Roti.

  • AI for fishing: DeepFish uses AI to identify fish species in the depths. "Deep Fish's developers have … created a prototype of a mobile application for recognition of fish caught by the photos, which uses neural networks." No, we’re not making this up.
  • AI for sex ed: SophieBot will answer everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask. Parents can now outsource that very #awk birds and the bees talk. 
  • AI for horse owners: HoofStep is an AI-powered mobile app that allows horse owners to remotely check in on their equine amigos in real-time.

Our Trends tool, which analyzes millions of media articles to quantify tech trends, shows how the hype has built around AI for X. 

Have a nice weekend.


This week in data:
  • 7%: The Raspberry Pi is leading Elon Musk's Model S by just over 7 percentage points in the final round of our bracket to determine the most innovative consumer product since the iPhone. Polls close this Sunday, so make sure you cast your votes here.

  • 200,000: Go-Jek, an on-demand motorcycle service which claims to have over 200K drivers across more than two-dozen cities in Indonesia, raised $1.2B in Series C funding from Tencent this week. The company gained its $1.3B unicorn valuation last year, and the new round of financing places the company’s valuation as high as $3B. Go-Jek is one of the most well-funded tech startups in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • -14%: Analysts pointed out that Apple suffered from a weak quarter in China, where revenue shrank 14% year-over-year. That’s despite continued iPhone-led growth in other markets. The Apple earnings release this week, in which sales failed to beat expectations, capped two weeks when the rest of the big tech companies — Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft — released mostly positive results.
  • $11M: Boston-based on-demand van service Bridj shut down this week, after “a deal with a major car company” fell through. The 3-year old company raised $11M in financing from investors including NextView Ventures, Atlas Venture, and Suffolk Equity Partners. You can find a list of other on-demand startup failures in our “on-demand” deadpool here.
  • 24: Of the top 25 products ordered around midnight on Instacart, 24 are ice cream products and the other is a “rising crust pepperoni pizza,” according to an analysis of orders by the on-demand grocery startup. Healthier food products are more popular in orders made early in the day. The data comes from an anonymized dataset containing over 3 million grocery orders from 200K+ Instacart users. We recently looked at how the food delivery market has changed over the past few years, noting initial successes as well as the slowdown in new entrants to the space.

  • $50M: This week, meal-replacement startup Soylent raised $50M in Series B funding. The round was led by GV and included investors a16z, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Tao Capital Partners. Our food replacement market map has a number of other startups working to provide next-gen food replacement choices, from vegan milk to lab-cultured meat to insect protein, and more.

  • 15: The number of investments made by Medtronic, the most active acquirer of medical device startups since 2012, as per our research released earlier this week. Following in second is Boston Scientific with 8 acquisitions across the time period. We’ll be digging into more of the private medical device market in our upcoming briefing on May 16th. We’ll even save you a spot.
  • 20,000: China plans to launch an online version of its national encyclopedia in 2018 in order to compete with Wikipedia. The project will use more than 20,000 scholars to compile over 300,000 entries. Yang Muzhi, editor-in-chief of the project, said China is under pressure to produce its own encyclopedia to “guide and lead the public and society.”
  • 10,000: The United Nations is experimenting with using a combination of blockchain and eye-scanning tech in Jordan to distribute aid coupons in Jordanian refugee camps, in a pilot that will reach over 10,000 people. The project will use eye-scanning hardware to verify identities of those accessing the funds, dismissing the need for a smartphone or paper wallet. The ethereum blockchain will be used to track coupon balances, reducing the use of paper money. We previously looked at bitcoin and blockchain startups around the world.

  • 36,000: Starbucks recently released a limited time Unicorn Frappucino that became all the rage on social media (despite baristas’ frustration with its complexity). Although the Unicorn Frap is no longer offered, there are more than 36,000 ways to customize the infamous Starbucks Frappucinos, according to a company spokesperson. The Dragon, Narwhal, and Mermaid are three unofficial Frappucinos that are currently trending. All are similar in nature and likely contain as much sugar (if not more) as the Unicorn Frappucino, which had close to 60 grams of sugar in a medium-sized order. For comparison, a can of Coke has 39 grams.
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