Lessons from startup failures. Latin American startups. What is a smart city?

GTL 4 lyfe


Shorter newsletter today because the CB Insights team is at our annual company offsite on the Jersey Shore.

Yes, that’s how we roll. Forget the usual hoity-toity lodges, vineyards, spas, etc. in woodsy and salubrious locales.

We go to Jersey.

Viva LatAm

Latin America has enjoyed a jump in investor interest in its startup scene.

SoftBank alone has pledged to invest $5B in the region through its new Innovation Fund.

And just last week, it announced a $100M bet on Mexican fintech startup Clip. We mapped the most well-funded startups here.

Do as I say, not as I do

The cruel reality is 70% of startups fail. Some even raise hundreds of millions and hit billion-dollar valuations before going bust.

From Pets.com to Theranos to Klout, we examine the extravagant failures of 8 startups to see what went wrong and what we can learn.

 Pumped up kicks

Nike applied for a trademark for "Cryptokicks" this month. The application describes "downloadable mobile applications for providing access to crypto collectibles, crypto art and application tokens."

We analyze what this means for the blockchain space. Clients can read about it here.

Define 'smart'

Smart cities are not a fantasy of the future — they already exist. And they're expanding. The global smart cities market is projected to be worth $1.4T in the next 6 years.

We dig into what makes a city "smart," who's investing in the future of smart cities, challenges and criticisms, and more. Read it all here.

 I've got dreams

Robinhood is a zero-fee brokerage app that lets users invest in stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies. It also has visions of becoming a full-service consumer bank.

We break down its funding, business model, customer acquisition strategy, and more. Clients can read it all here.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. We're hiring a director of fintech research. Check out the full job description here.

This week in data:
  • 2: Two new companies joined the global unicorn club this week. New York-based luggage retailer Away reached a $1.4B valuation following a $100M Series D led by Wellington Management Co. Impossible Foods leapt to a $2B valuation following a $300M Series E. With upwards of $800M in total disclosed funding, the company is a leader in the alternative and meatless protein space. Read more about it in our report on the meatless future.

  • -$930M: Two years after the demise of headset company Jawbone, ex-CEO Hosain Rahman has emerged with a new venture: Jawbone Health Hub, which raised $65.4M earlier this week. The revamped company will offer a personalized healthcare subscription service involving clinical wearables. Its predecessor raised $930M before shuttering, making it the second most expensive VC-backed failure of all time. Read more about epic startup failures here
  • $39M: Elon Musk-backed Neuralink raised $39M this week to further its plans to link human brains to computers. Musk’s secretive company is far from the only player in the space — here are 20 other startups looking to bring tech to brains.

  • 3806 mph: Aviation startup Hermeus raised seed funding from Khosla Ventures to develop a hypersonic plane aiming to travel up to Mach 5, or 3806 mph. At that speed, a trip from New York to London would take around an hour. Clients can take a look at how companies are breaking the sound barrier here.
  • 8 to 1: This week, San Francisco became the first major American city to ban the use of facial recognition software by police and other agencies, a rule decided in an 8-1 vote by the city’s Board of Supervisors. We recently rounded up 16 industries — including law enforcement — that facial recognition technology will transform. Check out the full list here.

  • 415 ppm: The concentration of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere has reached the highest level in human history. Data from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory found CO2 levels to be just above 415 parts per million. The last time atmospheric levels of CO2 were this high was around 3M years ago, when sea levels are estimated to be 82 feet higher than they are today.
  • $110.7M: Meules, a Monet painting from the impressionist artist’s Haystacks series, sold for $110.7M at auction this week. The sale sets a new record for impressionist art.  
One more thing...

Abbazia di Novacella/Werner Waldboth via Atlas Obscura

Vineyards in northern Italy are being threatened by unusually cold weather that could damage millions of euros' worth of wine.

In response, winemakers throughout South Tyrol, Trentino, and Tuscany have lit hundreds of torches to keep their grapes toasty and viable.

It also makes the vineyards look like a storybook scene. Win/win.
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