43-square-foot gym. Facebook's latest acquisition. Food delivery failure.


It’s already possible to imagine a not-too-distant future in which store clerks and cashiers are endangered species. And that translates to nearly 5 million jobs in the US. 

The human impact will be huge. 

  • Fast-food: Already in Midtown Manhattan, you can go to an automated, nearly human-free restaurant like Eatsa to grab your lunch from a cubby that pops open. You can also get a robot to serve you coffee in SF at CafeX.
  • Convenience stores: Several startups like F5 Future Store and Bingobox are building robotic convenience stores. Next-gen vending machine startup Bodega was scoffed at for appropriating the name of New York’s corner stores for its concept. But the vision of widespread souped-up vending machines unbundling the 7-Elevens and Circle-Ks of the world is hardly crazy (and already a fact of life in Japan and parts of Northern Europe). 
  • Gyms: Even gyms are being automated, and doing away with human staff. You can step into a 43-square-foot self-service “workout pod” on the sidewalks of Beijing and run on a treadmill while watching TV. Startups like MisspaoLePaoDouba, and others have already rolled out 24-hour public gym pods.

Larger companies are also using a human-free strategy: When Snapchat launched its Spectacles, it used pop-up vending machines. 

One day not so far off, I am sure we’ll think back nostalgically about the days of surly convenience store clerks.

Have a great weekend.


This week in data:
  • $1.8B: Europe has already hit an all-time annual high for fintech funding this year, crossing 216 deals worth $1.8B in funding through Q3’17. If the current pace persists, Europe VC-backed fintech funding could break the $2B mark in 2017. Read about this and more in our 58-page Q3’17 fintech report. Get the PDF.

  • 910,000: The number of users on the AirPay payments and e-wallet app in June 2017, operated by Sea — the Southeast Asian gaming, payments, and e-commerce company — which listed its shares this week in the US. That’s up more than 3x from just 290,000 users a year before.
  • 55%: The percentage of Stitch Fix’s management team that identified as female, as of July 2017. Stitch Fix, a subscription service using proprietary styling algorithms to match customers with clothing, filed to go public this week. In the S-1, the San Francisco-based company also revealed over 86% of all employees identify as female. Stitch Fix, which is led by CEO Katrina Lake, reported a profit in 2016 and 2015. The startup will also be one of few female-led businesses to go public in the last few years; only 3% of companies to go public in the US between 1996 and 2013 had women CEOs, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • 2 months: This week, Facebook acquired TBH (To Be Honest), an app for giving positive anonymous feedback to friends. TBH operates in over 35 states, and was acquired just over 2 months after its launch in August 2017. The move marks Facebook’s 4th acquisition of the year, following its acquisitions of Source3, Ozlo, and Fayteq. Our Expert Intelligence subscribers recently got a look at 9 other companies Facebook might go after.
  • $40M: The amount raised by private blockchain provider Digital Asset Holdings in Series B financing from Jefferson River Capital. Digital Asset Holdings has now raised $107M, making it one of the most well-funded venture-backed blockchain startups. This week we published a report on the blockchain investment landscape — and how VCs, token sales, and consortia are shaping its future. Get the PDF.

  • $1.18B: Yesterday, cloud database company MongoDB went public. The company raised $192M at a valuation of $1.18B in its IPO. At a $1B+ value, MongoDB’s IPO makes it one of the latest exits to appear on our real-time Unicorn Exits Tracker (along with Qudian and the aforementioned Sea), which looks at billion-dollar VC-backed exits since 2009. Additionally, with MongoDB’s IPO, 2017 has now seen 4 of New York's top 10 VC-backed exits since 2012. MongoDB ranks 4th, behind Blue Apron, Etsy, and OnDeck Capital.

  • $1.17B: The valuation reached by Michigan-based company Duo Security, after raising $70M in a Series D round from investors including Geodesic Capital and Index Ventures. Duo Security is the newest addition to the global unicorn club, which now features 216 private companies valued at $1B+. The company can be found on our market map of 135+ cybersecurity startups focused on fintech.

  • $19.3M: On-demand food delivery startup Jinn shut down this week, stating that it “won’t be taking any new orders.” The London-based company previously raised $19.3M from investors including Samaipata Ventures and Bull Capital Partners. Check out our timeline of first fundings to US food delivery startups, which also includes the subsequent deaths of companies that fit the criteria, including the shuttering of Kitchit and SpoonRocket.

  • $502M: AR headset startup Magic Leap, which still has not released a product or even a public demo unit, raised $502M in Series D funding. The round was led by Temasek Holdings with participation from Alibaba, Fidelity Investments, EDBI, and others. This follows a regulatory filing unearthed by CB Insights, which authorizes Magic Leap to raise up to $1B. The company can be found in our AR/VR market map stack, which looks at over 110 startups working across the AR/VR space.

  • $74.2M: JP Morgan acquired online payments tool WePay, which had raised $74.2M in total disclosed funding from investors including August Capital, Rakuten, and Highland Capital Partners. JP Morgan ranks third in terms of the number of fintech investments made by the top ten US banks by assets, after Citi and Goldman Sachs. It has invested in LevelUp and Gopago, both in the payments and settlement category.

  • $4B: Chinese e-commerce giant, Meituan-Dianping, raised $4B in Series C financing, led by Tencent and with participation from The Priceline Group, Tiger Global Management, and Sequoia Capital China, among others. With the round, the unicorn was valued at $30B, up from the ~$20B seen in 2016. Meituan-Dianping (now known as China Internet Plus as a result of a merger) can be found on our map of top e-commerce startups around the globe. China places first with at least 25 e-commerce companies with funding over $100M.

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