Apr
15
14



Another Marketplace Ready for Reinvention: Why we invested in Beepi

Every year since Redpoint was founded we’ve made a marketplace investment. Technology offers brilliant ways to lower friction, enhance turnover, discover favorable economics and surface marginal demand in existing marketplaces. Stars in our portfolio like Loopnet, BlueKai and HomeAway.com  have set the bar for others to follow, and exciting new investments like Thredup, Homejoy, The Receivables Exchange and Axial are on promising trajectories. They all have a common thread – a team with a determined vision to take on an existing marketplace in need of radical new solutions to simplify and speed up the connection between demand and supply.

One such category that has not yet been truly reinvented since the dawn of the internet is the process of buying and selling a used car. That’s why we are thrilled to announce our investment in Beepi – a company that has made it dead-simple for individuals to buy and sell used cars. Beepi bests the existing consumer alternatives – car dealers (who provoke a well founded mix of fear, uncertainty and doubt), and cumbersome, risky and complicated, peer to peer selling sites (such as Craigslist)– with an elegant solution that enables an individual’s second largest financial purchase to become a simple, high value, risk-free and positive experience.

After a seller’s car has become Beepi-certified by passing Beepi’s comprehensive pre-purchase inspection process, and has accepted an attractive and guaranteed price from Beepi, the Beepi created listing is made available to buyers. Beepi handles all the listing creation, payment, paperwork, pick-up and delivery of the vehicle to make the experience completely frictionless. Buyers can find attractively priced vehicles, without negotiating, or driving all over the state, and  rest easy knowing Beepi has not only kicked the tires to find them a great car, but also offers a simple, highly reliable transaction and an unprecedented 10-day no questions asked money back guarantee.

In short, the potential for Beepi is to not only reinvent the car selling and buying experience for the better, but to change how consumers think about when and how to buy and sell their cars. We believe that Beepi can meaningfully penetrate the $300 Billion used car marketplace.

We are very excited to partner with two dedicated co-founding entrepreneurs in Ale Resnik and Omer Savir.  Ale and Omer both have had the personal experiences and broad vision to build something really big in this category.  In addition, we have assembled great partners and co-investors who bring to bear a great wealth of experience, insight and support in building this market:  Fabrice Grinda, founder and Chairman of OLX –the Craigslist of Europe, and also chairman of Beepi; Brian Sharples, cofounder and CEO of HomeAway, the world’s largest vacation home marketplace and former board member of iMotors, Rich Boyle, the former Chairman and CEO of Loopnet, the largest online marketplace for commercial real estate, and Tina Sharkey, founder of iVillage and former CEO of BabyCenter.

It will be an thrilling ride, (pun intended) and we’re looking forward to Beepi’s first chapter here in the Bay Area. Check out their cars now – and maybe get ready to sell yours.


Mar
27
14



Reflections On YCombinator Demo Day: How The Seed Market Has Changed

Earlier this week, I attended the Spring YCombinator Demo Day. I’ve been attending for six years now. Each time, I’m impressed by the intelligence, ambition and the polish of the founders presenting companies only a few weeks or months old.

As I listened to the pitches, I wondered if the types of startups founders decide to build at YC has changed over time and whether those trends are lagging or leading indicators of the market as a whole. At each Demo Day, the YC team provides investors a list of all the companies pitching and I’ve kept a few. To get a sense of the broader trends in YC companies, I’ve compared the Winter 2012 class and the Spring 2014 class by sector (consumer v. enterprise), segment (ecommerce, education, social, gaming, delivery) and by revenue model (subscription, ads, transactional).

These are the trends I observed in the data:

Mild shift toward enterprise: In 2012, 48% of YC startups were enterprise. In 2014, enterprise startups were 57% of the class.

Within enterprise, there has been a shift toward industry specific Software-as-a-Service (vertical SaaS) at the expense of horizontal SaaS. Vertical SaaS startups comprised 29% of the 2012 enterprise companies and 40% of the 2014 class. To make this idea more concrete, here are two examples. VidPresso provides software to the TV broadcast industry and is an example of vertical SaaS. ZenPayoll, a provider of payroll services, serves many different types of businesses and is a horizontal SaaS company.

Platforms-as-a-Service, which enable developers to build and scale applications (Heroku), have also seen a decline in numbers. In 2012, there were 5 PaaS companies while in 2014, I counted 2. Shifting to consumer, social apps have fallen from 24% of consumer startups to 15% at the most recent demo day. Unlike the 2012 class, there were no gaming companies in 2014. Food delivery companies, education companies and consumer market places have cropped up in their place.

As for revenue models, subscription remains dominant. 53% of 2012 YC companies chose this revenue model and 56% chose it in 2014.

Also notable is a marked increase in the number of non-profits. The 2014 class graduated 6 of them, up from zero in 2012.

All in all, YC startups do seem to be shifting with the market and/or YC partners are screening for startups that are more reflective of the environment. The shifts toward vertical SaaS and away from social and gaming apparent in this class are consistent with the patterns I’m seeing in the fund raising market. Unfortunately, the data isn’t able to tell us who is setting the trend. In any case, I’ll be tracking these trends in the future and hope to be able to draw more conclusions over time.


Mar
24
14



ThredUp: Leveraging Data to Understand Customers

ThredUp, the leading online resale marketplace for women’s and children’s fashion, has gathered interesting data points on its customers’ shopping trends. Here’s a quick look.

Ever wonder which clothes in your closet might fetch the most money? Or in which cities people shop the most for “practically new” shoes and dresses? Or which clothing brands hold their value the most? These are the kinds of juicy shopping tidbits you will find in thredUp’s Second Annual Resale Report. Founded in 2009, the fast-growing company has seen it all when it comes to fashion trends—and is willing to dish. Here are just some of the most interesting insights from 2013:

Of the 10,000 U.S. cities embracing the online fashion resale marketplace, residents in San Francisco, Brooklyn, Seattle, Chicago, Houston, Miami and Los Angeles are among the most enthusiastic. Indeed, shoppers from the top 10 cities collectively saved almost $1.8 million buying and selling clothes on thredUp in 2013.

What were these folks buying, you might ask? The fastest-selling brands for women include Burberry, Coach, Gucci, Toms, and True Religion. For kids, Zara, Crocks, Patagonia, Ralph Lauren and Matilda Jane were among the hottest. These brands, part of the more than 20,000 sold on the site, typically sell out within hours of being listed.

Of course, much of what you buy depends on where you live. thredUp checked that out and found some interesting—and surprising—results. For instance, Weston, FL residents bought up the most activewear clothing. The most shoe-obsessed population seems to hale from Lancaster, PA. Preppy clothing is biggest in Fontana, CA while formal wear is more the norm in Pleasant Shade, TN. Who buys the most designer brands? That honor goes to the fashionable people of Brooklyn, NY, who purchased more pieces by the likes of Stuart Weitzman, Missoni and Dolce & Gabbana than anyone else.

With savings of up to 90% off retail, the online resale marketplace is growing fast. In 2013, stripes, florals and plaids were the best-selling patterns. Wonder what they will be in 2014?


Feb
5
14



The Super Bowl of Startups: Interview with DraftKings CEO Jason Robins

 

As Super Bowl XLVIII fades into the history books (hopefully never again to be so lop-sided a defeat), another game is quietly gaining steam as the place to be for the most avid sports fanatics. DraftKings, a leader in online fantasy sports games, has seen its customer base, daily engagement, and giveaway prize totals surge almost as quickly as the Seattle Seahawks have transformed themselves into Super Bowl champions.

Launched in 2012, DraftKings paid out $50 million in prizes in 2013 to thousands of players who excelled in weekly fantasy football, daily fantasy baseball, daily fantasy basketball and daily fantasy hockey. In just the last four months, the Boston-based upstart’s user base has grown fourfold, with nearly 50,000 active daily users and as many as one million registered players. Even better, DraftKings users spend an average of more than two hours every day on the site.

All this before the company’s new mobile app was launched a few weeks ago and new games, such as golf, were added to the existing stable of sports. CEO Jason Robins says his company is poised to blow past these impressive numbers in 2014, thanks to more aggressive marketing and a slew of product enhancements.

With just 32 employees thus far, accomplishing so much so quickly is no easy feat. In a candid interview, Robins opens up about what he believes has been key to DraftKings high-octane growth and about the unique challenges that lie head.

 

Q: What has been your formula for success?

A: We have spent a lot of time focusing on the brand and the customer experience. Three things have been key: For the customer, we want everything to be fun, easy to use, and engaging. We look at a lot of metrics for every feature we roll out. We see what’s working and what isn’t by testing everything with a group of customers.

 

 Q. Can you give an example of how that has worked?

A. In the beginning of the NFL season, we launched a feature so people could send private challenges to friends. The social aspect of fantasy sports is huge and we needed to provide an easier way for people to play against their friends. After launching the feature, we found that a lot of challenges were not getting accepted. We wanted to know why and figured out that a lot of challenges were being lost in people’s email inbox.. At the same time, many of these same people were coming to our website without knowing about the challenges their friends were sending.

So we launched a new system of notifications on our website so people could see an alarm bell that shows a challenge. As soon as we launched this feature, our declines of challenges went down—70% on the first day. We will soon launch a push notification on our mobile app, which should make it even better. If you are out and about, you will know when someone has challenged you to a game. In addition, we just launched a feature where you can reserve a seat for a game without having to pick your team right away. People know they want to play but maybe can’t pick their team at that time. So this lets them accept a friend’s challenge and then later set their lineup. We have seen another 45% drop in cancellations with that.

All this was about tackling one key metric: the cancellation rate of game challenges.

 

Q. What are some things that have surprised you in getting the business off the ground?

A. Sometimes we are surprised by how our users respond to new features. We launched something called Lineups, which is a way to easily manage your teams. If you create 40 different teams and have players across many games, it can be hard to manage when a key player you had on 30 teams suddenly is out because of an injury. Previously you would have to edit out that play in each game. Now you can get the guy out of your lineups automatically. We knew this would be popular but it has become one of the defining features of our product.

Another lesson we have learned is about marketing. I came from Vistaprint, which had success with digital marketing channels at an incredible level of scale before venturing into offline advertising. It took us awhile to realize that wouldn’t work for us at DraftKings. Broadcast marketing channels have been easier for us to scale than digital.

 

 Q. Is it difficult to build a virtual business that is so dependent on the real world?

A. The beauty of sports is that you already start with a great product. It’s the world’s greatest reality show. We don’t have to create the content. It’s already there. For us, it’s more about how to add to an already interesting experience. Our app fits in particularly well. For example, if you are at a game, it can be a second-screen experience. It opens up a lot of different ways to add on to the experience.

 

Q. What have been some of the biggest challenges?

A. We are a product-focused culture and we always have to make sure we continue to pay as much attention to the technology and back-end operations. We have a very complicated product with constant transactions occurring. So the issue of security is always there and we have to have a really strong infrastructure that is error free. We can’t have people lose trust.

When we roll out a new feature, we make a list of all the negative things that could happen from launching the feature. Not just bugs but product design etc. We have to have an answer for each one or we don’t roll out the feature. We want to grow fast but there’s a lot of tricky stuff on the technical side.

 

Q. What keeps you up at night?

A. Staying ahead of the competition on the innovation front and making sure that everything we do is high quality. I also worry about hiring and retaining the best talent. It’s a little easier because of the business we are in. People feel a lot of passion for sports. It also helps being in Boston.

 

 


Jan
28
14



The Best Times of Year to Raise Capital for Your Startup

Aside from a startup’s internal considerations about the right time to raise money, founders should weigh the seasonality of the fund raising market when planning their raise. There’s a rule of thumb batted around the valley that the worst times to raise capital are in the dog-days of summer and after Thanksgiving. As it turns out, this aphorism is only a half-truth.

Below is a chart of the dollars VCs have invested by month of year. I’m using Crunchbase data since 2005 for tech companies in the US. There are a few notable trends in the data.

First, the impact of the summer is evident. The slowest month for investments during the year September. I’d estimate there are a few weeks latency in the data between when the investment commitment is made and the investment is disclosed. The legal diligence process of about 3-4 weeks that typically follows signing a term sheet introduces this lag.

Second, setting aside the slowdown in summer, VCs invest more and more as the year progresses. It’s not crazy to draw a parallel between this trend and the patterns quota attainment for salespeople in which the majority of sales arrive in the last two weeks of a quarter. VCs aim to invest a certain amount of dollars and/or in a certain number of companies each year. The later in the year, the greater the time pressure, the better the motivation.

Third, the difference from the best month, December, to the worst month, January, is substantial: a 75% delta in the total dollars invested and 50% increase in the number of investments. These differences are statistically significant with greater than 95% confidence, so seasonality quite clearly exists.

This analysis raises another question: is there an optimal time of year to maximize the size of an investment and presumably pre-money valuation?

The data shows the average investment size spikes in August and December, both of which have over the past nine years, generated 15% larger rounds. The difference is statistically significant with greater than 90% confidence.

Assuming a three month fundraising process, the best times of year to start a financing process is in September, targeting a December close, when investment sizes are 15% larger than average and investment volumes are 50% larger. Starting a raise in May is the second best choice. While the average investment sizes are identical to December, investment pace is much slower, hence a bit riskier.

 
*Originally posted on Tomasz’s personal blog, here.


Jan
27
14



San Francisco is the new center of start up activity

tl;dr Start up fund raising is growing across the board and increasing in geographic diversity.

The new year presents a great opportunity to look back at trends in start up activity and fund raising. Pitchbook has created a great summarization of start up funding and valuations from 2013.

 

 

We can see that aggregate dollars raised in 2013 is up slightly from 2012 but both down for the peak in 2011. Let’s examine geographic dispersion to better understand and visualize the broader trend. Thanks to Crunchbase’sopen platform and Google’s geocoding, there is raw data to analyze.

The Maps

 


Venture capital raised in 2013, by US Region.

 

As also reported by CB Insights, California dominates start up funding with New York and Boston closely following. This static view of the distribution of fund raising activity doesn’t present the full picture. Inspired by a beautiful Foursquare visualization, where check ins represent the heart beat of a city, I’ve taken a pass at representing the heart beat of the US economy through start up activity.

Some GIFs

 


Venture capital raised, by US Region. Each frame is one year.

 

In the animated gif above, each frame is the funding data for one year starting in 2005 through 2013. 2005, investment is mainly centered in NY, SF and Boston with little start up activity in more diverse areas. These central tech hubs see large gains over the 8 years covered. As the decade progresses, the start up community begin to also grow in Dallas, Austin, Raleigh NC, Seattle, DC, Chicago and beyond. Some of these secondary cities have now grown beyond where NY and Boston started. In a network effect business, which I would argue includes technology start ups, solving the chicken and egg problem is the most difficult. Now that technology start ups have passed a reasonable scale in the top 10 US cities, we can hope that the pace of innovation will continue to accelerate. There are benefits to starting a company in Silicon Valley but the success of some large unicorns outside of the bay area proves it is not a requirement (this is a big enough topic to warrant an independent post).

 


Venture capital raised, by CA City. Each frame is one year.

 

In the more mature tech market of California, the center of gravity has moved north from silicon valley to San Francisco proper. In the mid aughts, Silicon Valley and San Jose represented the majority of the Bay Area investment. As the teens turn, San Francisco became the focal point for start up activity. We also see that LA and San Diego have continued to grow in terms of raw investment dollars. I expect with the recent sale of a company like Gravity1 that the LA area will continue to see new investment.

 


Venture capital raised, in SF Bay Area. Each frame is one year.

 

Zooming into the Bay Area, we see that aggregate dollars raised is increasing and spreading out. The center of gravity has become San Francisco. The bay area, like the US and CA, sees increased geographic distribution. There has been increased investment beyond Palo Alto distributed across communities like Berkeley, Mountain View, Fremont and San Jose.

Takeaway

Start up fund raising is growing across the board and increasing in geographic diversity. In new start up empire, all roads lead to San Francisco.

Code and Data

Here is a R script for generating graphs and see Crunchbase for the raw data.

  1. Redpoint portfolio company. 

Jan
21
14



How much to raise using Crunchbase data

tl;dr Raise enough to hit the next milestones to raise the next round plus a healthy buffer.

After starting PrimaTable in 2011, raising a seed round and selling to Hotel Tonight and now sitting on the other side of the table, I’ve been asked: How much venture funding to raise? Fund raising can be more art than science with a competitive process that dictates terms. In this post, let’s take a quick look at the data.

It’s been written about before:

  1. Tom Tunguz “Raise enough money to achieve a set of milestones that will attract a subsequent round of investment from new investors.”
  2. Mark Andreessen1 “Raise as much as you can without giving away control of your company, and without being insane. … In a normal scenario, raising more money rather than less usually makes sense, since you are buying yourself insurance against both internal and external potential bad events.”

Thanks to Crunchbase, there is data to examine.

The Numbers


Cumulative Distribution of First Round Amount.

 

Looking at the distribution of the first round amount (restricting to only recent companies first funded between 2010 and 2013), the median is $1.2M with few extreme outliers. While this itself is informative, further funding history is a layer deeper. Raising a subsequent round can be viewed as a signal for some success, as other people have done (Benn @Mode).2


Follow On by First Funding Amount.

 

There seems to a positive correlation between the initial fund raise amount and the likelihood of a follow on round. Note, this is clearly an instance of correlation and not necessarily causal. The companies that raise more money may be more likely to succeed or better able to raise a subsequent round of funding. There are likely exogenous factors that influence follow on rounds. However, the relationship makes sense. In order for it to also reflect the collective wisdom on fund raising, the relationship should demonstrate a very specific activity based on individual company dynamics.


Follow On by Category.

 

Decomposing fund raising impact further by category, the positive correlation in general persists but varies dramatically by category. In many categories, Biotech, Cleantech, and Software, there is no explicit relationship. Companies that have raised larger initial rounds haven’t converted to a second round at a greater rate. In the case of Mobile, the relationship is the inverse. Mobile companies that have raised more are in general less likely to raise a follow on round.

Median First Raised Amount

 

In addition to differing relationships with additional funds, the aggregate amounts across category varies. The median amount raised when conditioning on follow on rounds varies wildly. In ecommerce, the median first round for companies that raised a further round is $1.3M vs just $.5M for companies that haven’t.

Takeaways

This data can help substantiate the thesis that you should raise enough to hit the next milestones and mitigate risk with a sufficient buffer to weather the inevitable bumps. Valuation for startups only increases on mitigation of risk. For example, in some seed stage companies, this can mean mitigating technical risk and building a working product. For a series A, this might mean finding product market fit and showing user engagement. For later stages, this can be demonstrating a scalable distribution channel and business model. Regardless of the stage, future rounds will necessitate mitigation of risk.

Mark argues to mitigate financing market risk by raising at the max of the range that is possible. This make sense to protect against macro changes that change fund raising dynamics as well as gives as much fuel to hold on as long as possible. This can be detrimental because this ups the level of risk that must be mitigated prior to a subsequent round.

In practice, for most early stage startups, the increments of funding look to be 12 – 18 months of runway. The round size varies with the team but you can use a rule of thumb of $125K / developer / year ($100K salary + 25% expenses).

In summary, raise enough to hit the next milestones plus a healthy buffer.

Code and Data

Here is a R script for generating graphs and see Crunchbase for the raw data.

  1. As quoted on Venture Hacks from an old post subject to link rot
  2. This neglects bootstrapped companies, companies that reach profitability or companies that sell, not requiring subsequent financing. 

Jan
20
14



What the Nest Acquisition Means for the Internet of Things

As recently as six months ago, it was easy to disregard the Internet of Things (IoT) as just a theoretical market that Cisco measured in the trillions, but whose potential never seemed to materialize. That’s all changing.

The past year ushered in a new era for the Internet of Things for three reasons. First, venture capitalists invested nearly $1B of capital in the IoT in 2013, more than 3% of all VC investments by dollars. Second, the sector witnessed its first IPO, Control4. And third, Nest’s sale to Google last week set the high water mark for IoT acquisitions, measured at more than $3B, firmly establishing the category as a strategic imperative for the world’s largest technology companies.

The IoT momentum generated in 2013 will only continue to grow, as the number of connected device startups and products compounds, each looking to satisfy an unmet consumer want or enterprise need. By 2017, each consumer will have 5 connected devices, more than double today’s per capita figure and potentially doubling the total revenue of the hardware market.

To realize the true potential of the IoT dream, the development of connected devices must be made simpler and easier. In addition, all of these billions of new devices will need to communicate with each other, seamlessly.

That’s why I’m so excited about the future for IoT companies like Electric Imp. In the same way Amazon Web Services advanced online storage and computing infrastructure, Electric Imp frees innovators to focus on the things they do best – build great products. No longer do companies have to create back-end infrastructure and worry about connectivity, scalability and compatibility – they can focus on the design and differentiation of their product.

2013 was just the beginning for the IoT. With billions of new devices and innumerable new uses for them, our world will change dramatically over the next decade, fueled by the innovation of entrepreneurs building novel connected products.

Originally posted on our portfolio company, Electric Imp’s, blog, here.



Jan
13
14



Why Quotas Aren’t the Most Important Number for Startup Sales Teams

I’ll never forget the first time I was assigned a sales quota. I was six months into a sales role at Google in which I on-boarded and managed the accounts of social networks running AdSense ads. Our key metric was customer satisfaction and retention. After a few months, I was starting to get into a groove. And then, our team was assigned a new manager who put the team on a quota, sending me into a tailspin.

I was daunted by the quota. I asked myself if I might ever be able to hit the number and doubted that I could. I fell into a crisis of confidence. How would I add $X of additional revenue this year?

I remembered my quota trauma while reading an article by Jason Jordan, a sales management training consultant, who wrote about the three kinds metrics that matter for sales teams: Business Results, Sales Metrics and Sales Activities.

Business Results are the revenue growth figures for a company at the highest level. Sales Objectives are the goals of each sales team: acquiring brand-name customers, growing customer accounts or hitting a quota. Sales Activities are outbound sales calls, writing account plans and qualifying leads.

Jordan makes a great point in his post, that the only type of metric sales teams can effect are the tactical Sales Activities. Unfortunately, most sales teams only focus measure Sales Metrics, so it’s challenging to diagnose why salespeople miss quota.

He argues sales managers should focus their sales teams on Sales Activities and measure those leading indicators in addition to Sales Metrics which are lagging indicators of success. In my interpretation, that means sales managers ought to set a quota, and in addition, outline a general plan (total number of calls, target sales sizes, conversion rates) for how to accomplish that quota. This enables the sales team to understand how they are tracking towards the Sales Metrics and allows them to diagnose where the sales funnels might be under or over-performing.

I’m sure the most successful sales teams have instrumented the Sales Activity metrics Jordan talks about, because it’s a very logical thing to do: dig deeper into the sales process to understand how to improve it. But I wish I had read Jordan’s post all those years ago.

 

*Originally posted on Tomasz’s personal blog, here.


Jan
8
14



My Thoughts On CES: The Six Trends On The Show Floor

 

Yesterday, I walked the sprawling floor of the Consumer Electronics Show. These are the six key themes/trends I noted.

The Coming of Era of Drones - I saw barrel-rolling quad-copters and parkouring wheeled robots dancing in synchrony to hiphop music. It was awe-inspiring and terrifying at the same time. If you watch the video, I think you’ll agree the mechanisms to control drones are rapidly becoming more sophisticated. Setting aside regulatory questions, there seem to be fewer and fewer barriers to large scale drone deployments in the very near future.

The Internet of Things is Going Away - The moniker, not the movement, is disappearing. Internet of Things companies don’t sell themselves as such. Instead of focusing on the tech, home security companies and wireless speaker companies and sensor companies and healh companies pitch value instead of technology.

The Reinvention of the Car - BMW’s i3, an electric city car, was ubiquitous and seemed to integrate with a great many services. Google announced the Open Automobile Alliance to enable more innovation within the car. I saw self-driving cars, Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-cell concept, Audi’s new screen/dials, and Ford’s entirely solar-powered car, which they claim can recharge its batteries from the sunlight in any US city. There’s rapid innovation in the powertrain and the software/electronics of the car. Not coincidentally, these are probably the two most important axes of differentiation for car makers in the next decade.

Searching for the Next Massive Hardware Market - Manufacturers are testing every permutation of device to find the next big success and releasing some Franken-devices in the process. The 10-inch consumer tablet shares the floor with a 12-inch pro-tablet. The mobile phone with camera sits next to a 21x optical zoom camera/phone. I saw tablets with keyboards and without, tablets with dual-booting operating systems, and even tablets without screens. These headless computers are little portable bricks of compute and storage that are designed to be connected and disconnected from screens at work and home. And of course, there’s the seemingly perennial SMS-enabled refrigerator or washing machine. In short, there was lots of spaghetti thrown on the walls and it’s unclear if any of the experiments will work or how large of a market any one of these niches represents.

Commodification of Wearable Technology - I couldn’t tell the wearable technology products apart. Each of them report similar diagnostics. The form factors for watches, pedometers, scales and heart rate monitors aren’t distinguishable from each other. Some are differentiating on style and fashion. None of the software accompanying the devices seemed unique either. The commodification trend will continue until one of two things occurs. Either one competitor develops a proprietary sensor/analysis that resonates with the mass-market consumer, or one company amasses enough users to become the de facto social and data hub for health information.

Hunting for TV’s New Killer Feature - It seems to be harder and harder to sell TVs, and the manufacturers are trying harder and harder. The 4K curved OLED screens are technical marvels and render stunning images. But these visual innovations don’t seem to provide the must-have-it factor of the original high-definition TVs. The content isn’t available at scale to demonstrate the quality advantages and the technology is rapidly approaching the limits of the human eye. All these order-of-magnitude improvements in displays seem to provide diminishing returns to the consumer. If anything, the TV might be replaced by…

AR/VR is Back - The momentum Oculus Rift and Google Glass have mustered has created a wake of clones and adjacent experiences. One startup showed an Oculus Rift connected to a mock assault rifle and a treadmill-like walking surface. Players can run and point and shoot in Call of Duty, so the idea goes.

There was quite a bit of innovation. Overall, the three areas I came away most excited about for startups are: AR/VR , drones and inside-the-car.

 

*Originally posted on Tomasz’s personal blog, here.