Microsoft's top acquisitions. Banking-as-a-Service. Look, new planets!

Going my own way


This week, news reports confirmed Slack’s plans to list directly on the New York Stock Exchange (see This Week In Data below). 

In doing so, it’ll bypass the traditional route of hiring investment banks as underwriters, and raising money in an IPO. Spotify pioneered the direct listing approach for tech unicorns last year, and Airbnb may follow in Spotify and Slack’s footsteps. 

The direct listing trend is not exactly great for investment banks since the underwriting business earned them fat fees.

In 2012 when Facebook arm-wrestled investment banks down to a fraction of their usual fees in a historic IPO, there was already a sense the big banks had lost leverage. 

Well, French cufflinks aren’t really the “in” thing now given Goldman Sachs' announcement last month of a “firmwide flexible dress code.” But even designer jeans fetch a pretty penny, and the direct listing trend is only one of many threats facing investment banks’ profit pools. 

We look at all the major headwinds they face in our report, "Killing the I-Bank: The Disruption Of Investment Banking.”  

Cream of the crop

For the fourth consecutive year, we teamed up with The New York Times to create a data-driven ranking of the world's best venture capital partners.

From Neil Shen to Alfred Lin to Mary Meeker, check out detailed profiles of the top 20 VCs here.


Yesterday, point-of-sale payment alternative company Affirm raised a $300M Series F round at a $2.9B valuation.

We take a closer look at the company's funding, business model, acquisition strategy, and more. Clients can read about it here.

Hey big spender

Microsoft has made over 250 acquisitions since snapping up Forethought for $14M in 1987 — but where did the tech giant write the biggest checks?

We visualize Microsoft's 10 largest acquisitions here

 Thanks for your service

Banking-as-a-Service digitally connects fintech companies to banks via APIs. This means that companies can integrate checking and savings accounts, direct deposits, and much more directly into consumer apps with little regulatory risk.

We take a look at how Banking-as-a-Service works and how fintechs can use it. Expert Intelligence clients can read about it here.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. There are only 7 fintech startup tickets remaining for Future of Fintech. If you have less than $2M in annual revenues and are less than 2 years old, get your ticket here today.

P.P.S. Love CBI research? Interested in joining our intelligence unit? We're hiring a senior fintech analyst.

This week in data:
  • $249M: New York-based office management platform Managed by Q has been acquired by WeWork for an undisclosed amount. Managed by Q was most recently valued at $249M in January 2019 when it raised $21M in Series C funding. We analyzed the co-working giant's expansion plans in our WeWork strategy teardown.

  • $111B: Saudi Arabia’s enigmatic oil giant Aramco, which many believe to be the world's most valuable company, revealed that it made $111B in profit for 2018. This is around 87% more than Apple’s $59.5B, and greater than the profits for Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google combined.
  • 4: Another 4 companies have raised funding rounds at valuations of over $1B., a payments service, raised an $88M Series H at a $1B valuation. Business catering marketplace ezCater raised $150M in a Series D round at a $1.25B valuation. Japan-based crypto exchange Liquid announced a valuation of $1B after its Series C raised an undisclosed amount. Customer data platform Segment raised $175M to reach a $1.5B valuation. Segment was one of our 2019 Unicorn predictions, developed in partnership with the New York Times. See all 50 Future Unicorns here, and keep track of every $1B+ private company using our unicorn tracker.

  • 0%: Burger King announced a partnership with alternative protein startup Impossible Foods to start selling plant-derived burgers which contain “0% beef.” The vegan-friendly Whoppers will initially only be available at 59 locations across St Louis. Find out more about the rising alternative protein trend in our Future Of Meat report.

  • $7.1B: Workplace messenger platform Slack is reportedly planning a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange in the summer, avoiding a traditional initial public offering. Slack was last valued at $7.1B in 2018 when it raised a $427M Series H. We dive into the direct public offering trend for high-profile tech companies in our report on the disruption of investment banking.
  • 90%: UPS partnered with dronemaker Matternet to begin delivering medical samples, such as vials of blood, to WakeMed hospital in North Carolina using drones. The 3-year-long pilot is the first commercial drone-delivery scheme to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Each drone can carry up to 5 pounds across 12 miles. A primary aim of the service is to cut travel time, with the drones reportedly reducing travel time by around 90% when compared to a courier traveling by road. We looked at 38 ways drones will impact society, from healthcare to mining. Check it out here.
  • $2.5B: VC Andreessen Horowitz is reportedly preparing to close a new fund worth up to $2.5B in the coming weeks. The firm is thought to have netted a sizable profit when Lyft went public last week, and it holds investments in other high-profile tech companies expected to go public soon, including Slack, Pinterest, and Airbnb. In our 2019 tech IPO pipeline report, Andreessen Horowitz was ranked No. 1 for investments in $1B+ companies poised to go public, investing at the seed or Series A stage for 35% of these companies. See the other well-positioned VCs here.
  • 540M: Researchers found 540M records relating to Facebook users on an unsecured server. The 146GB data set was being stored by a third party and contained information such as comments, likes, and account names. We looked into how Facebook and other big tech companies are approaching cybersecurity here.

  • 21%: Bitcoin’s value jumped by as much as 21% this week, briefly surpassing $5K and setting a new high for 2019. However, this price is only around 25% of Bitcoin’s peak of almost $20K set in December 2017. Not sure how Bitcoin works? Check out our blockchain explainer.

  • 1,200 light years: A 22-year-old undergraduate at the University of Texas, Austin led a team that discovered 2 planets far beyond our solar system. The researchers used artificial intelligence techniques to sift through data gathered by NASA’s now defunct Kepler telescope. The newly discovered planets, estimated to be slightly larger than Earth and approximately 1,200 light years away, join around 4,000 others discovered so far. To find out more about how AI is being used, check out our report on 2019’s Artificial Intelligence Trends.
  • $79-$119: In a move which may signal a coming change to New York’s business attire, Patagonia stated that it had shifted the focus of its corporate sales program, which allows organizations to order co-branded products in bulk, to favor charities and “companies that prioritize the planet.” Patagonia’s ubiquitous fleece zip-up vest, with variants retailing for between $79-$119, will likely become a less common sight as fewer companies gain approval for co-branded orders. Patagonia’s vest is often associated with New York-based men who work in finance, inspiring the creation of a “Midtown Uniform” Instagram account which documents people wearing the vest. The account currently has over 120K followers.
One more thing...

Getty Images

At what point does a personalized meal get a little too personal?

Sushi Singularity, which is scheduled to open in Tokyo next year, will analyze customers' bodily fluids to tailor meals to meet their individual nutritional needs.

Reservation-holders will have to submit samples of their saliva, feces, and urine two weeks before they dine.

The meals will also reportedly be put together with a CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machine and 3D printer.
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