Roundup of news and ideas from the world of startups – Week ending 15th Sept 2019
News you can use
3 Ways Analyzing Patent Trends Pays – The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued its 10 millionth patent number in June 2018 and continues to go strong. In fact, according to a PatentlyO.com-published report, “We are about three-fourths of the way through fiscal year 2019 (ends September 30, 2019) and the USPTO is on-track to issue the most patents ever in a single year period,” with the author forecasting, “330,000 issued utility patents, which is up about five percent from the prior one-year high in 2017.” While these kinds of milestones have created much ado about patents that have changed the world, including a number of popular culture pieces, the unfortunate truth remains that a great number of organizations don’t really understand how powerfully advantageous a tool patents can be.
Calgary startup develops tech that can turn CO2 emissions into cleaning products – Calgary-based startup CleanO2 has developed technology that can convert greenhouse gas emissions into cleaning products. Using refrigerator-sized ‘CARBiNX’ devices, CleanO2 has managed to capture and absorb CO2 with a type of hydroxide. This can then be turned into such products as soap and detergent. According to CleanO2, 14 CARBiNX units have been installed across Alberta and British Columbia so far. The company is also now expanding into the U.S. through a pilot project in Minneapolis
Thiel’s Venture Firm to Invest $45 Million in India AI Startup – Peter Thiel’s venture capital firm is investing $45 million into Glance, an Indian technology startup that uses artificial intelligence to personalize content for smartphones. Mithril Capital, co-founded by Silicon Valley investors Thiel and Ajay Royan, is putting in the money as part of a larger financing round, according to a statement. Glance is part of InMobi Group, a mobile marketing firm backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. Glance, which claims 50 million daily active users, delivers customized videos and information to people’s smartphones, with new interactive content every time users wake up their phones. As of August, users spend an average of 22 minutes a day on Glance.
Startup Merger and Acquisitions
McDonald’s Is Acquiring AI Startup Apprente – McDonald’s is acquiring Apprente, a startup which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to understand speech in multiple languages. The technology will be used in the company’s drive-thrus and could also be used in its self-order kiosks and a mobile app. There is a new self-checkout shopping cart that makes grocery shopping easier. When you are shopping with a Caper cart, all you have to do is scan the item barcode and simply add it to your cart. Once you are done shopping you pay directly on the cart. Caper recently closed a $10 million Series A led by Lux Capital.
Robotics Startup 6 River Systems Acquired by Shopify for $450 Million – Adding robotics capabilities to its new fulfillment service launched in June, major SMB ecommerce platform Shopify is acquiring 6 River Systems for $450 million, the companies announced, making it the first platform firm with this capability for its ecommerce seller customers worldwide. The plan is to have 3PL partners in Shopify’s fulfillment network implement 6 River’s so-called “co-bots” or Chucks that work collaboratively with fulfillment associates into their operations. 6 River will continue to sell its services to the broader market. Its customers include Office Depot and XPO Logistics. These moves come as Shopify rival eBay is also launching a fulfillment service for its marketplace sellers, although not until next year. It was announced at eBay’s user conference in July.
US-based CenturyLink acquires Paris-based video streaming startup Streamroot Inc – CenturyLink, a US-based Fortune 500 company that specialises in communications, network services, security and cloud solutions, has acquired the Paris-based startup Streamroot Inc. The startup will help CenturyLink to improve video and static content delivery within bandwidth constrained areas, and strengthen its position as a leader in content delivery network (CDN) and edge computing services. Steamroot’s founders started out as a group of students in 2013 with a vision of making streaming more accessible for billions of internet users worldwide. Today, with a global team of more than 30 video delivery professionals in its US and European offices, the startup powers over 20 million video sessions a day in every country of the world.
AR startup Daqri is shutting down – The technologies behind Virtual and Augmented reality are advancing at a fast pace and there is a lot of hype in the sector. However, the business models to leverage the emerging technologies are yet to mature. Despite advances in virtual reality technology and plenty of hype, the medium has yet to take off in the way its advocates envision. Daqri a startup that built enterprise-grade AR headsets reportedly sent an email to its customers stating that it’s pursuing an asset sale and will be shutting down its cloud and smart-glasses hardware platforms by the end of September.
Drone Startups Are Consolidating, Closing Shop, or Completely Pivoting – The drubble (drone bubble) has burst, Bloomberg declares. Here’s the recipe for a drubble: One heaping of early industry hype, a $2.6 billion dose of VC money, and dozens of companies failing to find product-market fit. Don’t try making this cocktail at home. New commercial drone businesses flooded into the market at the start of the decade, flush with venture capital and giddy with visions of unmanned aircraft being used for everything from delivering packages to fertilizing farmland. Unmanned aircraft are still seen as a pillar of the future. But for now, all that over-heated enthusiasm is getting a cold blast of reality.