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Disrupting the Car Industry



CB Insights:

While self-driving tech — which is included in the infographic above — receives the lion’s share of media attention, a host of less-heralded startups are targeting specific pieces of automotive infrastructure or components. For example, companies including Quanergy, LeddarTech, and TriLumina are seeking to capitalize on the self-driving revolution by dramatically lowering the cost of expensive LiDAR sensors.

Startups such as Veniam and Savari are developing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-anything (V2X) communications, another autonomous-adjacent technology field. With increasing automotive connectivity seemingly inevitable, vehicle cybersecurity has also begun to emerge as a focus, with newer players like Karamba Security joining others such as Argus Cyber Security.

Artificial Intelligence Startups in Healthcare



CB Insights:

The startups [above] have raised more than $870M in aggregate funding since 2011.

This year has seen some notable deals involving companies on the map: New York-based AiCure raised $12.3M in Series A funding and London-based health services startup, Babylon Health, raised a $25M Series A round from investors including Google-owned DeepMind Technologies and Hoxton Ventures. Babylon will reportedly roll out a Siri-like voice recognition interface this year. The largest round so far in 2016 (as of 5/24/2016) was raised by China-based iCarbonX ($154M Series A round).


62 Startups Disrupting the Hotel Industry



CB Insights:

  • Hotel Booking – Startups like HotelUrbano are making it easier to find, compare, and book hotel stays. Some companies like HotelTonight provide customers with last-minute deals for unoccupied hotel rooms, while ByHours.com allows you to rent hotel spaces for hourly amounts as opposed to full days.
  • Alternative Lodging – One of the newest growing industries is alternative staying, allowing people to book rooms in existing apartments, vacation homes, etc. AirBnB is the most well-funded in this space.
  • Concierge Services – These are startups attending to your requests, much like a hotel concierge does for guests. Startups like Magic and Operator use a text-based interface to handle your needs, while HeadOut gives you recommendations and deals for cities you’re travelling to.
  • Events/Meetings – Hotels are common places for events to be held, but startups like eVenues are making it easy to price-compare event venues, while companies like Breather provide pay-by-the-hour temporary office spaces and meeting rooms.
  • Weddings – Many weddings utilize hotel spaces/services for their special day. These are startups that are helping people choose their venues/vendors.
  • Budget Hotel Networks – Companies like OYO Rooms and Treebo Hotels aggregate small motels and hotels, certify them for quality and standards, and market the resulting network of rooms under their own brand.

31 Startups Disrupting the Construction Industry



CB Insights:

Construction tech, while still nascent, is a growing industry with funding growing 5x in 2015 alone.

Collaboration Software – This was the largest category in our market map and includes tools that offer task management, job-site scheduling, and document management software to the construction industry. The category includes Fieldlens which has raised over $12M to date from investors like Openview Venture Partners, Primary Venture Partners, and Softbank Capital, among others.

Marketplaces – This category helps match clients or homeowners with contractors, architects, and/or equipment. The section includesEquipmentShare, which has raised $7.7M from Romulus Capital and Y Combinator, among others.

Data and Analytics – This section includes companies like Rhumbix which has raised roughly $6M to date from Greylock Partners and Brick & Mortar Ventures, among others.

Building/Project Information – This category counts companies likeSmartBIM which provides building information solutions to players in the construction industry. SmartBIM raised roughly $1.3M in funding to date.

Frontier Tech Applications –   Companies here use frontier tech — in which we include drones, AR/VR — and apply it to the construction industry. The category includes TraceAir which uses UAVs to analyze and track progress on construction sites. They raised a $250K seed round from 500 Accelerator. 

Design Software –  These startups offer design software to the construction industry. Flux Factory has raised more than $39M from DFJ, Obvious Ventures, Temasek and Surbana Jurong Private Limited, among others.

Financial/Project Management – This was one of the smaller categories in our map and includes Joist, a software tool for contractors that allows them to estimate, invoice, and manage projects. Joist raised an undisclosed seed round in 2015 from Accomplice and Matrix Partners.

Artificial Intelligence: Most Active Corporate Investors



CB Insights:

Artificial intelligence dealmaking has exploded recently, leaping to a new quarterly record of over 140 deals in Q1’16.

Corporates and their venture capital groups are among the most active investors in this category (tech corporates have also been active acquirers in the category).

Some takeaways from our infographic:

  • Intel Capital is the most active corporate investor on our list, having backed  over a dozen separate unique AI-based companies, including healthcare startup Lumiata, machine-learning platform DataRobot, and imaging startup Perfant TechnologyIntel later acquired Indisys and Saffron Technology (as we’ve covered in our research, the pace of tech company M&A in AI has accelerated recently).
  • Expect Labs (MindMeld), which builds intelligent conversational interfaces, has backing from 4 investors on the list: Intel Capital,Google Ventures, Samsung Ventures, and In-Q-Tel.
  • Google Ventures, which backed over 10 unique companies, ranked second as an active investor in AI. As we earlier reported, Google is also a major acquirer of AI startups.

Artificial Intelligence is the New Big Data

Key AR/VR Acquisitions



CB Insights:

Deals to AR/VR startups have seen a massive boom in recent years, with 2015 seeing a record 135 deals and $700M in funding. Acquirers in AR/VR span wide variety of industries, include companies in social media, design software, consumer cameras, mobile apps, computers, and chipmakers to name a few.

45 startups in the subscription e-commerce market landscape



CB Insights:

Subscription e-commerce as a category has seen funding collapse and some companies struggle. At least five of these companies died in 2015, includingBeachmint which focused on celebrity-curated products.

But the space counts some well-funded startups including Harry’s Razor Company, JustFab (which claims to be IPO-bound), and BarkBox, as well as The Honest Company, which offers monthly subscriptions for “bundles” of products related to infant care, home cleaning, and more.

We identified subscription e-commerce startups in the following areas:

  • Beauty & Personal Care – Anchored by big names Harry’s ($287M in disclosed funding) and The Honest Company ($222M), this category represents the most well-funded segment in our infographic. The nine companies included have raised over $990M in aggregate.
  • Women’s Apparel – This category includes the most well-funded company in our infographic, JustFab ($300M), which aims to offer members personally curated selections of apparel and accessories each month. Other companies include Stitch Fix, AdoreMe, which focuses on lingerie, and Gwynnie Bee, which targets the plus-size market.
  • Men’s Apparel – Companies such as Bombfell ($1M raised) and Five Four Club (bootstrapped) ship male-targeted boxes of apparel and accessories.
  • Children & Babies – Subscriptions for children’s toys and educational games, including ToucanBox and Bluum.
  • Hobbies – Loot Crate is a relatively well-funded company in this diverse category, with $19M in funding for subscriptions of geek and gaming pop culture items. Gear Supply Co. is a subscription service for guitar strings, Ganja Boxes sends vaporizers and related items, Artboxdistributes local art within the Toronto area, and Quarterly ships boxes each quarter curated by a “thought leader.” For example, a science-focused collection is curated by Bill Nye, while a young adult books collection is curated by a new young adult author each quarter.
  • Feminine Care – Lola offers subscriptions of 100% cotton tampons, while Monthly Gift sends users pads, tampons, and chocolates.
  • Outdoor Activities – Cairn serves outdoor enthusiasts with subscription boxes including goods like energy bars, hiking apparel, fire starters, and headlamps.
  • Pet Items – Startups offering scheduled deliveries for dog toys, likeBarkBox, or healthy food, like The Farmer’s Dog.
  • DatingDatebox delivers items for a different activity to couples each month.


50 Startups Disrupting the Legal Services Industry



CB Insights:

Online Legal Services –  This section includes startups that provide a range of online legal services to consumers and businesses. This was the largest category in our map and includes Avvo which raised a $71.5M Series E from Technology Crossover Ventures in July 2015.

E-discovery – This refers to any process in which electronic data is searched and obtained for use as evidence in a civil or criminal case. Startups here are primarily building digital tools to enhance that process. The most notable private company in the category is kCura, which raised an $125M growth equity round from Iconiq Capital in February 2015.

Practice Management Software – Companies here provide billing, time, and contract-management tools to law firms. Clio one of the more well-funded startups in the category has raised over $25M from investors like Bessemer Venture Partners and Point Nine Capital, among others.

Intellectual Property/Trademark Software Services – Companies here include Innovation Asset Group which builds software that simplifies the invention disclosure process for intellectual property.  Innovation Asset Group has raised $3.9M in disclosed funding to date.

Artificial Intelligence Legal Tech – Companies here use artificial intelligence to summarize legal documents and include LegalSifter, which raised seed financing in March 2016 from Birchmere Ventures.

Litigation Finance – The category counts LexShares and Mighty which allow plaintiffs to accept upfront financing (used for plaintiff medical bills etc.) and in exchange the financier gets a portion of the potential settlement after ones case closes. LexShares raised an undisclosed seed round in November 2014 and Mighty raised a $5.25M Series A led by IA Ventures and Tribeca Venture Partners in September 2015.

Lawyer Search – Startups here include Lexoo which helps consumers search and find the right lawyer. Lexoo has raised $1.7M in disclosed funding to date.

Legal Research – This section includes a variety of online research companies catered to the legal industry. Ravel Law, which raised a $8.1M Series A from New Enterprise Associates, Work-Bench, and Xfund in February 2014 is included in the section.

Notarization Tools –  This was the smallest section in our market map and includes Notarize, which provides consumers with a digital notarization service. Notarize raised an $8.5M Series from Polaris Partners, Founders Fund, and Ludlow Ventures in June 2016.


Top Investors in Digital Health



CB Insights:

Digital health continues to be a hot category as the number of investors entering the space globally continues to increase, with more than 1,350 unique investors with at least one investment in a digital health company in 2015.

2016 has already seen more than 800 unique investors in the space in the first half of the year, putting the year on track to outpace the 2015 total for investors active in digital health.


E-Commerce Startups Market Landscape



CB Insights:

These are the 120+ companies shaping global e-commerce, including startups selling apparel, used cars, baby care, eyeglasses, and more.

We broke down e-commerce into the following categories:

  • Internet Malls – This heavily-funded category includes multi-product online shopping platforms selling a range of household goods, apparel, electronics, toys, and more. Four companies — China Internet Plus Holding (China), Flipkart (India), Snapdeal (India) and Coupang (South Korea) – have each raised more than $1B.
  • Apparel & Accessories – The category includes both online-first clothing brands, such as Bonobos and NastyGal, and shopping platforms focused on fashion, such as Wish (the segment’s most well-funded, with $571M raised) and Keep.
  • Luxury – This includes luxury shopping platforms such as Moda Operandi, and sites for buying and selling pre-owned luxury, such as The RealReal.
  • Fashion Rental – Rent the Runway and The Black Tux focus on luxury clothing rentals for special occasions.
  • Classifieds & Resale – These startups host online classifieds platforms and channels for peer-to-peer selling of used items. Mumbai-basedQuikr, the most well-funded company on the table, has raised $350M.
  • Personal & Grooming – These startups offer cosmetics and personal care products, some on a subscription model. The most well-funded is vertically-integrated razor company Harry’s, with $287M.
  • Maternity & Baby – Mia.com and BeiBei are two China-based e-commerce platforms for baby supplies, with over $220M in funding each. India-based FirstCry has raised $69M.
  • Athletic Apparel – Florida-based Fanatics, which manages e-commerce and merchandising for sports teams, is one of the most well-funded companies in our table with $695M.
  • Furniture & Decor – These startups provide online shopping platforms for furniture and home decor, including Houzz, with $214M in funding.Casper, with $70M, is an online-first mattress manufacturer.
  • Eyeglasses – This includes online-first eyeglass designers like Warby Parker (the category’s most well-funded with $216M) along with e-commerce platforms for glasses and lenses like MyOptiqueGroup($102M raised).
  • Auctions & Art – These startups offer online bidding and purchasing platforms for art, like HIHEY ($100M), estate sales, like Everything But The House ($43M), and antiques/collectibles, like Catawiki ($95M).
  • Auto – This category, which has had a flurry of $100M+ mega-rounds recently, includes online platforms for buying and selling new and used cars, with a mix of peer-to-peer and business-to-consumer models. The most well-funded is Beijing-based Uxin Pai with $460M.

41 Startups Bringing AI To Fintech



CB Insights:

The following are some of the investment highlights in this space:

  • Goldman Sachs has been particularly active in the last 2 years, participating in 6 separate deals to 4 companies: Context Relevant, Digital Reasoning Systems, Kensho Technologies, and Dataminr.
  • Baidu took a minority stake in ZestFinance this month. ZestFinance said in a press release that the two companies will “work together to apply ZestFinance’s underwriting technology to Baidu’s search, location, and payment data in order to improve credit scoring decisions in China.”
  • In the personal assistants/bots category, 4 companies — Trim, Penny, Kasisto, Cleo, and Insurify — raised funds in 2016 from investors including Social Capital, Eniac Ventures, Core Innovation Capital, and AlphaPrime Ventures.
  • In credit scoring, companies that raised funds so far this year (as of 7/22/2016) include China-based WeCash, India-based CreditVidya, United Kingdom-based Aire and TypeScore, as well as California-based ZestFinance and Applied Data Finance.
  • Some of the largest funding rounds include a $130M Series D round raised by Dataminr (analyzes twitter data to deliver real-time market information), and a $103M Series C round raised by Sentient Technologies (which is applying its algorithms to quantitative trading).
  • Nearly half of the companies on the list are still in their early-stages and have not raised beyond a seed/angel or Series A round.

Food Industry: 93 Startups Disrupting and 10 Companies Dominating



CB Insights:

The food and beverage industry is remarkably concentrated, with top companies wielding multiple, sometimes dozens, of brands to capture over 70% market share in the US market in key segments like beer, soda, chocolate, and cereal.

With increased global focus on health and natural eating, smaller food companies have grown in recent years — a Boston Consulting Group report found that CPG companies with less than $5B in sales gained 2.7 points of market share since 2011 — representing $18.1B in aggregate sales growth. BCG also noted that in 2015 the industry saw its fastest growth rate since 2012.

Big CPG players have stepped up their M&A and investment activity in recent years. Anheuser-Busch InBev has been a top acquirer, purchasing 15 private companies since 2011. Water distributor DS Services of America acquired nearly 10 smaller water brands over the same period. In the first seven months of 2016, we’ve seen Campbell Soup launch a $125M venture capital fund, Kellog’s launch a $100M venture capital fund, Mondelez bid $23B (in a rejected deal) to take over Hershey’s, and Danone’s acquired WhiteWave Foods for $12.5B.

However, we still see dozens of private food and beverage companies (some with equity funding from the industry leaders) attacking every aisle in the supermarket, with some offering their products in stores, and others competing solely by distributing online. Using CB Insights data, we identified 93 companies offering new takes on healthy beverages, snack foods, plant-based cheese, and more.

The graphic includes private, active companies only. Companies in this graphic have raised nearly $1.8B in total funding, and we note that beverages are an especially large category.


Good Food:

Mondelez, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo, P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, and Unilever own just about everything you could hope to buy. It seems that six degrees of separation theory has been proven after all, if only because we all drink Diet Coke every now and then.

In order to visually elucidate that point, Oxfam International created a comprehensive infographic that reveals the extensive reach of the “Big 10” food and beverage companies. Unlikely ties between brands we largely don’t associate with one another show how easy it is to be misinformed about the American food system. For example, PepsiCo produces Quaker granola bars, and Nestlé makes Kit Kat bars but also frozen California Pizza Kitchen pies. To the surprise of many, Pineapple Fanta isn’t sourced straight from the mythical Fanta Islands, but canned right alongside Barq’s root beer at the Coca-Cola factory.

77 Startups Disrupting the Agriculture Industry



CB Insights:

We define agriculture tech as technology increasing the efficiency of farms, in the form of software, sensors, aerial-based data, internet-based distribution channels (marketplaces), and tools for technology-enabled farming that doesn’t require the traditional setting and inputs.

  • Farm Management Software: This includes software like that produced by Andreessen Horowitz-backed Granular that allows farmers to more efficiently manage their resources, crop production, farm animals, etc.
  • Precision Agriculture and Predictive Data Analytics: These startups include those that focus on using big data and predictive analytics to answer farm-related questions and consequently make better decisions related to their farm to save energy, increase efficiency, optimize herbicide and pesticide application (such as Brazil-based Strider) and manage risk.
  • Sensors: Startups in the sensor category including Agrilyst develop and provide smart sensors that collect data and help farmers monitor crop health, animal health, weather, soil quality, waste, water usage, and other factors to help make smarter decisions.
  • Drones and Robots: This category includes companies that provide drones or aerial services catering to agriculture (such as Ceres Imaging), as well as robots or intelligent farm machines that perform various farm functions more efficiently (such as Blue River Technology, backed by Monsanto Growth Ventures, Syngenta Ventures, and Khosla Ventures, among others).
  • Smart Irrigation: These startups (including Hortau) provide systems that help monitor and automate water usage for farms.
  • New Farms: This is a small but growing category which includes startups (like indoor farming startup Aero Farms) that use technology to provide alternative farming methods to enable farming in locations and settings that cannot support traditional farming
  • Marketplaces: These startups help create and regulate marketplaces relevant to this industry, such as those connecting farmers and buyers of fresh local produce (like Paris-based La Ruche Qui Dit Oui) and linking farmers with suppliers of farm equipment.

Peter High, Forbes.com:

Mike Marcie, CIO, Land O’Lakes: In our IT organization here at Land O’Lakes we are working with our business leaders and everyone out in the field to help our membership-which is farmers and agricultural retailers-transform the way they think about technology. Everything from operations to the way they trade, and deal with their customer. It effects every aspect of everything they do, and many aspects of everything we do here. The one that’s the most exciting though, is how technology is transforming what happens on the farm. I think we are just at the beginning of that, but at Land O’Lakes we want to be a leader in that space. We believe we help farmers with decisions in agriculture-in the way they grow, make decisions in planting, and make decisions in environmental questions. We believe that technology is going to radically change the way they make those decisions in the future and we want to be in the forefront of that.

Skills and Jobs for the Digital Future


George Westerman, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (@gwesterman)

Gerald Chertavian, Year Up (@yearup)
Prof. Tom Davenport, Fellow at MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (@tdav)
Karen Kocher, Cigna (@kkocher)
Steve Phillips, Avnet, Inc. (@Steven_phillips)

Are AI and robots eating jobs? Yes–some jobs more than others. But even as automation replaces some workers, it will enhance the roles of others. Companies will need people who can work closely with technology, as well as those who can do what computers cannot. How can CIOs develop a workforce that will thrive in the digital age? Which skills will be valued and which ones will be replaced? Does college still matter? Will on-demand workers replace full-time employees? Join our eclectic panel-–experts in AI and jobs, Human Resources, alternative skill development, and digital leadership–as they describe what the coming changes in skills, jobs, and careers mean for CIOs and their companies.

Forrester forecasts that cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will replace 7% of US jobs by 2025.


  • 16% of US jobs will be replaced, while the equivalent of 9% jobs will be created — a net loss of 7% of US jobs by 2025.
  • Office and administrative support staff will be the most rapidly disrupted.
  • The cognitive era will create new jobs, such as robot monitoring professionals, data scientists, automation specialists, and content curators: Forrester forecasts 8.9 million new jobs in the US by 2025.
  • 93% of automation technologists feel unprepared or only partially prepared to tackle the challenges associated with smart machine technologies.


NPR Planet Money:

Truck drivers dominate the map for a few reasons.

  • Driving a truck has been immune to two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs: globalization and automation. A worker in China can’t drive a truck in Ohio, and machines can’t drive cars (yet).
  • Regional specialization has declined. So jobs that are needed everywhere — like truck drivers and schoolteachers — have moved up the list of most-common jobs.
  • The prominence of truck drivers is partly due to the way the government categorizes jobs. It lumps together all truck drivers and delivery people, creating a very large category. Other jobs are split more finely; for example, primary school teachers and secondary school teachers are in separate categories.

The rise and fall of secretaries: Through much of the ’80s, as the U.S. economy shifted away from factories that make goods and toward offices that provide services, secretary became the most common job in more and more states. But a second shift — the rise of the personal computer — reversed this trend, as machines did more and more secretarial work.

41 WeddingTech Startups Transforming Your Wedding



CB Insights:

As US couples’ average wedding spend has grown—to a whopping $32,000+, according to the most recent national survey by The Knot—investors have poured funding into startups aiming to ease the process from the proposal to the thank-you notes.

Many of these startups leverage new technologies to improve planning efficiency and save users money, such as The Black Tux with tuxedo rental and Vow to Be Chic for bridesmaid dress rental, WedPics for photo sharing, and Four Mine, which replicates engagement rings so users can try on the copies at home before buying.

We used our CB Insights database to identify 41 startups focused on the wedding industry, who have received funding from investors including First Round Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and more. Several got their start on Shark Tank – including Honeyfundand Paparazzi Proposals – and one counts Leonardo DiCaprio among its backers.

Fastest $1B+ Exits For VC-Backed Companies



CB Insights:

Walmart bought Jet.com for $3.3B a little over a year after the site was officially launched…Airwatch represents the fastest acquisition post-investment, selling the company to VMWare about a year after raising a gigantic $200M growth equity round (Airwatch was bootstrapped for the decade prior to the fundraise so the company was definitely more mature than a company like Jet.com). Biotech company Flexus Biosciences sold to Bristol-Myers Squibb for a total of $1.25B after raising an initial  $15M from Kleiner Perkins less than 500 days prior. Jet is the 5th fastest flip. The largest quick acquisition on this list is Whatsapp, acquired by Facebook with a final price tag of $22B. Facebook acquired 3 companies on this list: Oculus,Instagram, and Whatsapp highlighting their penchant to snap up emerging consumer platforms quickly.

Robotics: From Tesla in 1898 to Exits in 2011-2016




Submerged version of Nikola Tesla's remote-controlled boat

Submerged version of Nikola Tesla’s remote-controlled boat


[Nikola] Tesla wanted an extraordinary way to demonstrate the potential of his system for wireless transmission of energy [radio]. In 1898, at an electrical exhibition in the recently completed Madison Square Garden, he made a demonstration of the world’s first radio-controlled vessel. Everyone expected surprises from Tesla, but few were prepared for the sight of a small, odd-looking, iron-hulled boat scooting across an indoor pond (specially built for the display). The boat was equipped with, as Tesla described, “a borrowed mind.”

“When first shown… it created a sensation such as no other invention of mine has ever produced,” wrote Tesla. As happened fairly often with his inventions, many of those present were unsure how to react, whether to laugh or take flight. He had cleverly devised a means of putting the audience at ease, encouraging onlookers to ask questions of the boat. For instance, in response to the question “What is the cube root of 64?” lights on the boat flashed four times. In an era when only a handful of people knew about radio waves, some thought that Tesla was controlling the small ship with his mind. In actuality, he was sending signals to the mechanism using a small box with control levers on the side.

Tesla’s U.S. patent number 613,809 describes the first device anywhere for wireless remote control. The working model, or “teleautomaton,” responded to radio signals and was powered with an internal battery.

Tesla did not limit his method to boats, but generalized the invention’s potential to include vehicles of any sort and mechanisms to be actuated for any purpose. He envisioned one operator or several operators simultaneously directing fifty or a hundred vessels or machines through differently tuned radio transmitters and receivers.

When a New York Times writer suggested that Tesla could make the boat submerge and carry dynamite as a weapon of war, the inventor himself exploded. Tesla quickly corrected the reporter: “You do not see there a wireless torpedo, you see there the first of a race of robots, mechanical men which will do the laborious work of the human race.”

Tesla’s device was literally the birth of robotics, though he is seldom recognized for this accomplishment. The inventor was trained in electrical and mechanical engineering, and these skills merged beautifully in this remote-controlled boat. Unfortunately, the invention was so far ahead of its time that those who observed it could not imagine its practical applications.


[Nikola] Tesla’s work in robotics began in the late 1890s when he patented his remote-controlled boat, an invention that absolutely stunned onlookers at the 1898 Electrical Exhibition at Madison Square Garden. [Tesla said in 1935:]

At present we suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age. The solution of our problems does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine.

Innumerable activities still performed by human hands today will be performed by automatons. At this very moment scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a ” thinking machine.” I anticipated this development.

I actually constructed ” robots.” Today the robot is an accepted fact, but the principle has not been pushed far enough. In the twenty-first century the robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization. There is no reason at all why most of this should not come to pass in less than a century, freeing mankind to pursue its higher aspirations.

CB Insights:

Last year was the busiest year for robotics M&A activity, with the industry seeing nearly 15 acquisitions of private companies (we excluded reverse mergers and unit acquisitions). This year there have been three M&A deals involving private robotics companies year-to-date.

  • Around 50% of acquisitions were in industrial robotics: A majority of the acquisitions in the last 5 years have been in the industrial robotics sector. A notable deal was Teradyne’s acquisition of Denmark-based Universal Robotics in Q2’15. The startup, with subsidiaries in countries including China and Singapore, makes robotics arms for application in a variety of industries including electronics, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals.
  • VC-backed acquisitions: US-based Segway, backed by investors including smart money VC Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, was acquired in 2013 by Summit Strategic Investments, and later acquired by China-based personal transportation startup Ninebot in 2015. Other VC-backed startups that were acquired include Aldebaran Robotics and VGo Communications.
  • Canada-based acquirers: This year, Ontario-based medical device and robotics corporation, Bionik Laboratories, acquired Massachusetts-based Interactive Motion Technologies, a startup providing robotic technology for neuro-rehabilitation. Two other Ontario-based corporations, Great Rock Development and Ross Video, acquired autonomous robotic startup Cyberworks and robotic camera startup FX-Motion, respectively.
  • Google dominates 2013: Google acquired 7 robotics startups in 2013 — including US Department of Defense grantee Boston Dynamics, Japan-based SCHAFT, and robotics motion control startup Bot & Dolly — as part of an ambitious plan to boost its robotics division. But Google has now put its Boston Dynamics unit for sale amid leadership changes and management issues, Bloomberg reported, listing Amazon and Toyota Research Institute as potential acquirers.
  • Amazon makes key industrial robotics acquisition in 2012: The previously-mentioned Kiva robots are now used at Amazon’s warehouse and fulfillment center. Post the acquisition, “there has been a scramble of new providers [like Iam Robotics, Locus Robotics, and 6 River Systems] to fill the void left by Kiva’s technology,” Frank Tobe wrote in The Robot Report.
  • Aldebaran rebrands as SoftBank Robotics: In 2012, Japan-based SoftBank Group bought a majority stake in Paris-based Aldebaran Robotics, the makers of NAO, Pepper, and Romeo robots. Aldebaran was rebranded earlier this year as SoftBank Robotics.


China: Increasing Investments in AI, Big Data and Digital Health


Gartner Hype Cycle for ICT in China, 2016


Despite the slowdown in GDP growth to 6.9 percent in 2015, China is still making aggressive investments to drive the adoption of high technology by local enterprises and organizations, according to Gartner, Inc…

The massive consumer base and the number of internet users in China (estimated at 650 million internet and 980 million mobile internet users in 2016) present the most-promising big data opportunities. Led by hyperscale internet companies such as Baidu (internet traffic data), Alibaba (supply chain and transaction data) and Tencent (social data), approximately 25 percent of businesses have been pursuing the value of big data.

“The government-sponsored strategy ‘Internet Plus’ is targeted at boosting economic growth through digital transformation,” said Jie Zhang, research director at Gartner. “It has issued a detailed action plan for 11 key industries in 2015, mandating the necessity of digital business transformation by leveraging big data and cloud technologies.”

Wall Street Journal:

The biggest buzz in China’s internet industry isn’t about besting global tech giants by better adapting existing business models for the Chinese market. Rather, it’s about competing head-to-head with the U.S. and other tech powerhouses in the hottest area of technological innovation: artificial intelligence.

Venture capitalists have been pouring money into startups focused on AI, which broadly refers to efforts to make computers emulate human cognitive functions such as recognizing speech or images. Chinese tech companies such as search giant Baidu have been investing heavily in the technology, and poaching high-level talent from foreign rivals.

Enthusiasts of the technology in China say those resources, along with some particular advantages in China, such as the sheer volume of data generated by its enormous population of internet users, makes this an area where China can excel.

“China is poised to be a leader in AI because of its great reserve in AI talent, excellent engineering education and massive market for AI adoption,” says Kai-Fu Lee, a former Microsoft and Google executive who is now chief executive of Sinovation Ventures. The firm, formerly known as China’s Innovation Works, has invested $100 million in 25 AI-related startups in the U.S. and China in the past three years.


CB Insights:

In total, over $1.1B has been deployed across 21 deals to Chinese digital health companies in the first six months of the year. It’s worth noting, though, that three investments each totaled over $100M in financing over the period including Ping An Insurance-backed medical services app Ping An Good Doctor, Beijing-based mobile healthcare app maker Spring Rain Software, and health data mining startup iCarbonX.

The chart above highlights how mega-rounds have propelled China’s digital health investment since 2012. Deal activity in the first half of 2016 was nearly equivalent with that of all of 2015.


Big Auto Self-Disruption



CB Insights:

Traditional automotive OEMs have begun making deals at a frantic place, seeking to remedy their shortcomings in auto tech and ride-hailing disciplines. Using CB Insights data, we mapped out the key auto tech partnerships, investments, and acquisitions of these corporations over the past three years.

We focused on auto OEMs’ private markets activity within our definition of auto tech, which includes startups that using software to improve safety, convenience, and efficiency in cars (and excludes activity in fields such as energy/powertrain, parking, and rentals/marketplaces). We also looked at their major engagements with ride-hailing companies and large tech corporations.

Scanning the timeline, the acceleration of activity seen in 2016 is immediately obvious.