Column

Quantum computing, not AI, will define our future

William (“Whurley”) Hurley Contributor William Hurley, commonly known as whurley, is an American entrepreneur and the founder of Chaotic Moon Studios, Honest Dollar, and Equals: The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age. He is currently chairing the Quantum Computing Working Group for the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), and is the founder and chief executive of Strangeworks. The word “quantum” gained currency in the late 20th century as a descriptor signifying something so significant, it defied the use of common adjectives. For example, a “quantum leap” is a dramatic advancement (also an early ’90’s television series starring Scott Bakula). At best, that is an imprecise (though entertaining) definition. When “quantum” is applied to “computing,” howeve...

Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

Brooks Rainwater Contributor More posts by this contributor As tasks wane, skills rise Blockchain technology could be the great equalizer for American cities Scott Andes Contributor Scott Andes is the program director for the National League of Cities City Innovation Ecosystem program. The more than year-long dance between cities and Amazon for its second headquarters is finally over, with New York City and Washington, DC, capturing the big prize. With one of the largest economic development windfalls in a generation on the line, 238 cities used every tactic in the book to court the company – including offering to rename a city “Amazon” and appointing Jeff Bezos “mayor for life.” Now that the process, and hysteria, are over, and cities have stopped asking “how can we get Amazon,” we’d like...

In venture capital, it’s still the age of the unicorn

Howie Xu Contributor Howie Xu is the vice president of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Zscaler. He previously co-founded TrustPath and served as an entrepreneur in residence at Greylock. This month marks the 5-year anniversary of Aileen Lee’s landmark article, “Welcome To The Unicorn Club”. At the time, the piece defined a new breed of startup — the $1 billion privately held company. When Lee did her first count, there were 39 “unicorns”; an improbable, but not impossible number.. Today, the once-scarce unicorn has become a global herd with 376 companies on the roster and counting. But the proliferation of unicorns begs raises certain questions. Is this new breed of unicorn artificially created? Could these magical companies see their valuations slip and fall out of the her...

The top 10 cities for $100M VC rounds in 2018 so far

Crunchbase News recently profiled a selection of U.S. companies’ largest VC raised in 2018, and no surprise here: the 10 largest rounds all topped out well north of $100 million. A major driver of global venture dollar growth is the relatively recent phenomenon of companies raising $100 million or more in a single venture round. We’ve called these nine and 10-figure deals, which shine brightly in the media and are hefty enough to bend the curve of VC fund sizes upwards, “supergiants” after their stellar counterparts. And like stars, venture-backed companies tend to originate and co-exist in clusters, while the physical space between these groups is largely empty. We noticed that many of the companies behind these supergiant rounds are headquartered in just a few metro areas around the Unit...

Three challenges facing blockchain technology

Jonathan Johnson Contributor Nearly five years ago, Overstock.com became the first major retailer to accept bitcoin as a form of payment. It now accepts many top cryptocurrencies. As a member of the senior executive team and board of directors at Overstock.com, I had a front-row seat to those decisions. It didn’t take long for the Overstock team to realize that bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology held great promise beyond cryptocurrencies. We also knew that for blockchain technology to reach its full potential, the startup companies advancing its use would need both financial and human capital support. Overstock set up a venture capital blockchain incubator, Medici Ventures, to do just that. We believe blockchain technology will eventually impact many industries. We are already invo...

Make people valuable again

David Nordfors Contributor More posts by this contributor The future of business is good jobs as a service The future of work is 5 billion customers looking for a good job Vint Cerf Contributor Vinton Gray Cerf, a co-founder of i4j — innovation for jobs, is widely hailed as one of “the fathers of the Internet”. Cerf was a manager for the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funding groups to develop TCP/IP technology and currently serves as the Chief Evangelist of the Internet for Google. There is a disconnection between the pace and progress of the technical achievements made by innovators and entrepreneurs and the ways in which those technologies have added to human happiness. We have increased our technological powers many times and st...

A long and winding road to new copyright legislation

Dave Davis Contributor Dave Davis joined Copyright Clearance Center in 1994 and currently serves as a research analyst. He previously held directorships in both public libraries and corporate libraries and earned joint master’s degrees in Library and Information Sciences and Medieval European History from Catholic University of America. More posts by this contributor How AI and copyright would work Back in May, as part of a settlement, Spotify agreed to pay more than $112 million to clean up some copyright problems. Even for a service with millions of users, that had to leave a mark. No one wants to be dragged into court all the time, not even bold, disruptive technology start-ups. On October 11th, the President signed the Hatch-Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (the “Act”, or “MMA”). The ...

Agrifood — the $8 trillion industry that’s worth your salt

Esther Delignat-Lavaud Rodriguez Contributor Cannabis-infused drinks. Burgers grown in laboratories. Entire meals in bottles. Consumers, retailers and farmers alike are hungry for the next generation of food, and investors are beginning to acquire the taste, too. Early-stage investment in agrifood tech startups reached $10.1 billion in 2017, a 29 percent increase on the previous year. Agrifood can be split into two parts. “Agritech” refers to technologies that target farmers. “Foodtech,” by contrast, targets manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and consumers. Jointly, the two have enough reach to impact every part of the production line, from farm to fork. Recently, foodtech investments have led the charge, with Delivery Hero’s IPO and multi-million rounds in ele.me and Instacart. However...

Silicon Valley’s sovereign wealth problem

John Vrionis Contributor It’s time to bring the conversation about where Silicon Valley gets its money from out into the open. Following recent revelations into Saudi Arabia’s extensive reach and influence in the US technology sector, the willful ignorance that has defined the relationship between venture capital firms and the limited partnerships (LPs) that fund them for years now isn’t going to cut it anymore. According to the latest reports from the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Arabia is now the single-largest source of funding for US-based tech companies. Since 2016, the Saudi royal family has invested at least $11 billion into US startups directly, and in August, the Saudi Arabian government committed $45 billion to Softbank’s $92 billion Vision Fund. To put that into context, the total...

The SaaS VC gap: China & other markets trail the US

Chinese startups rule the roost when it comes to total reported venture dollars raised so far in 2018. That is, mostly. In one key category at least — software-as-a-service, better known as SaaS — they do not. Ant Financial raised the largest-ever VC round in June, a mind-boggling $14 billion in Series C funding. And nearly a dozen privately held Chinese companies, including SenseTime, Du Xiaoman Financial, JD Finance and ELEME, raised $1 billion (yes, with a “b”) or more in single venture rounds thus far in 2018. But if there’s one thing to note from that shortlist of 2018’s largest China venture rounds, it’s this: almost all of them involve consumer apps and services. Despite being one of the largest economies in the world and currently holding the top spot in the national venture dollar...

The biggest threat to drone innovation is a group you’ve never heard of 

Brian Wynne Contributor Gary Shapiro Contributor A little-known but highly-influential group of attorneys from across the country will soon meet in Detroit and could change our skies forever. They claim their draft model legislation concerning drones will help protect privacy. However, their actions could have far-reaching effects on innovation, safety and future drone operations. The state-appointed members of the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) aim to promote uniformity by proposing model legislation for consideration by legislatures across the country. In Detroit, the ULC will continue work on a proposed “Tort Law Relating to Drones Act” drafted by commissioners who have no aviation or drone experience and without consulting the federal government, state legislators or the industry. Their ...

Smart marketplaces bridge the implicit and complex

Bart Dessaint Contributor Bart Dessaint is an associate partner at Mosaic Ventures, a London-based venture capital fund focused on Series A funding. Marketplace businesses are intrinsically linked to the technologies that enable them. There would be no Craigslist without email/SMTP, no eBay without the graphical browser and no Uber without location services and ubiquitous smartphones. As enabling technologies have evolved, marketplaces have grown to facilitate increasingly complex exchanges in new environments and industries. The next level? They will get smart: goodbye marketplace 1.0, hello smarketplace. The theory is that dense edge computing and machine learning will enable marketplaces to understand more complex demands, and thereby facilitate transactions currently impossible using t...