While Uber makes use of Nvidia hardware in its own self-driving automotive technology, it does not employ Nvidia’s Drive autonomous computing platform, which includes the GPU maker’s own real-time sensor fusion, HD mapping and path planning. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang shared this information today during a Q&A session attended by reporters at the company’s GPU Technology Conference in San Jose.
“Uber does not use Nvidia’s Drive technology,” Huang said. “Uber develops their own sensing and drive technology.”
Huang also reiterated comments made during an earlier Q&A that Nvidia ceased its own testing on public roads (its fleet comprises only about 5 or 6 vehicles in total at any given time, the company points out) out of an abundance of caution, and simply because it’s good engineering practice to pause and reflect when a new variable is discovered in any engineering problem.
The Nvidia CEO also clarified that Nvidia stopped its testing only “almost a day or two” after the accident occurred, as soon as “the news became clear to us,” and not only when news broke publicly earlier this week that its testing program had been suspended.
“If there’s an incident that happened that is a new piece of information that you can learn from, you should pause and learn from it,” Huang added. “I think everybody in the industry should – there’s no question in my mind, that everyone in the industry should pause to look at the situation, learn from it. Pause, just take a pause.”
Others running self-driving test programs on public roads, including Toyota Research Institute, have also paused, but some, including Waymo and Intel, have instead publicly declared that their own systems wouldn’t have failed where Uber’s did in this instance, and have continued their own testing programs on public roads.
After their long post-financial-crisis slump, European tech IPOs are starting to rebound. Tech companies raised more money on European public markets between 2015-17 (€5.3 billion) than in the previous seven years combined. With venture capital having boomed in that time, that trend is set to continue: There is a generation of well-funded, fast-growing technology companies now eyeing the public markets as the platform for continued rapid growth. The pipeline is healthy. But what needs to be done to get ready for an IPO and, crucially, what comes next?
Money raised and market opportunity alone do not make for a public-company-in-waiting. You do not transform from a scrappy growth business into a tightly governed, transparent public company overnight. It has to be a gradual evolution, one which requires the right people, structures and mindset to be in place. Companies need to ask themselves not just if they want to pursue an IPO, but how exactly they plan to go about it, and how they will prepare for the realities of life as a public company.
Having advised three companies on their journey to an IPO, across three different geographies, I think there should be at least two years of careful planning between deciding to seek a listing and hearing the bell ring on your market open.
You have to start with bringing in the right people. A business can grow a long way on the back of an inspirational founding team, but as an aspiring public company, you need an experienced and high-performing management team as well. Do you have a CFO who has credibility with public market investors? Does the board have enough members with independent authority; will it meet the requirements of those institutional investors who now require a minimum quota of female directors?
Ultimately it comes down to one question: Can you start operating like a public company before you become one?
Your board will have to grow, not least to fulfill necessary governance functions, from audit to compensation and nomination committees. These are important and often complex hires, which can take anything from six months to a year to put in place. It also takes a while for new board members to start working well together and gain a detailed understanding of the company.
The composition of the board is just one area where a private company has to start asking itself new questions as it prepares for a listing. Another is the financial profile of the business and the trade-off between growth and profitability. Will investors give us credit for growing, say, 80 percent year over year? Should we front-load investments and associated losses, or incur them over time when required? The CEO also must think about how she is going to communicate with the market, and whether she needs others around her to give investors the full package. A very visionary and product-focused CEO, for example, will need to be complemented by a brilliant CFO who can handle detailed questions about the company’s finances.
A company thinking about going public also needs to evolve its mindset. After an IPO, you will no longer be a tight-knit group of founders, early hires and investors who know the business intimately. The relationship you have known with your private backers is going to bear no relation to the one you will experience with public market investors. As a public company, you are no longer being supportively cheered on, but independently scrutinized by investors who understand the business in less detail and are liable to react strongly to indicators whose significance they can easily misinterpret. In this environment, if you set an ambitious target, you can’t achieve only 95 percent of it and expect to be consoled and encouraged. Institutional investors are going to want to know why you didn’t exceed that target, let alone failed to meet it.
Ultimately it comes down to one question: Can you start operating like a public company before you become one? The companies that succeed post-IPO are those that have laid the foundation to make the transition from private to public as seamless as possible. There are rich rewards to be enjoyed on the public markets, but only for those who do the hard work in advance to ease into life as a public company. Europe’s fast-growing tech companies should consider not just whether an IPO is the right option for them, but if they are willing to put in the work that is necessary to make it a success.
FloWater, an eight-year-old, Burlingame, Calif.-based company whose reusable water bottle refilling stations produce purified water, has raised $15 million in its first major round of funding. Bluewater, a Swedish company that sells water purifiers, among other things, led the round.
FloWater caters to schools, colleges, fitness centers, hotels and offices, and, in the words of CEO Rich Razgaitis, set out to address four environmental concerns from the outset: obesity in the U.S., which has been tied in part to the rise of sugary, carbonated beverages; the nearly 40 billion single-use plastic water bottles that are used and tossed aside every year; the millions of barrels of oil and hundreds of millions of pounds of CO2 byproduct waste used to create and transport bottled water; and the toxins in single-use plastic bottles, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
It has a pretty compelling case to make, in short, as other purveyors of refilling stations would surely argue, and which clearly persuaded 13 investors altogether (according to a new SEC filing) to write checks to the company.
And it all started with an $18,600 bank loan, according to the company’s founder, Wyatt Taubman, who remains on the company’s board but stepped aside as head honcho in 2015 and has since founded a cold-pressed juice company.
Per his LinkedIn, Taubman, says he used that bank loan to launch a pilot refill station, before shaking $125,000 out of friends and family, and taking out a second, $62,000 loan to launch additional refill stations. The company later raised $950,000 from the Tech Coast Angels and the Hawaii Angels, hired Razgaitis, redesigned the look of its product and, in 2016, raised $2.6 million in Series A funding.
FloWater customers include Google, Airbnb, Specialized Bikes and, somewhat ironically, Red Bull.
It says its stations are now in nearly 50 states.
RetailMeNot is suing rival Honey over patent infringement, the company announced this week. Honey is the maker of a deal-finding browser extension that helps consumers shopping online get the best price by automatically applying coupon codes at checkout. It also helps with finding the best price on Amazon purchases, doles out digital coupons, offers cash back, helps you track price drops and more.
According to RetailMeNot’s suit, Honey infringes on U.S. Patents 9,626,688; 9,639,853; 9,953,335; and 9,965,769, which detail technologies related to things like facilitating access to promotional offers, merchant offers and coupon codes.
“These valuable patents protect RetailMeNot’s pioneering developments in computer-related technologies, and Honey’s unauthorized use of them enables key features of Honey’s website and browser extensions,” RetailMeNot stated in a press release about the lawsuit, which is how Honey first heard the news.
The suit comes at a time when Honey is growing in popularity among online shoppers, while RetailMeNot is getting a bit long in the tooth. The latter has been around since 2006, while L.A.-based Honey was founded in 2012, and is backed by more than $40 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. It had a reported 5 million monthly active users as of last fall, and said users were saving an average of $32 per month with its help.
Honey has also dabbled with expanding its deal-finding efforts to other verticals, including as of last year, travel.
Meanwhile, RetailMeNot, a subsidiary of Harland Clarke Holdings, claims $4.8 billion in retailer sales were attributable to consumer transactions from paid digital offers in its marketplace last year, with more than $560 million which were attributable to its in-store solution. (The company operates a number of websites, including RetailMeNot.com in the U.S. and .ca in Canada, plus VoucherCodes.co.uk in the United Kingdom; ma-reduc.com and Poulpeo.com in France; and GiftCardZen.com and Deals2Buy.com in North America.)
Reached for comment, Honey called the lawsuit “baseless.”
“We were disappointed to learn of this lawsuit from a press release and are in the process of reviewing the documents with our legal counsel,” said Honey spokesperson, Kelly Parisi, VP, Communications. “The lawsuit is baseless and the claims are irrelevant to how consumers use and experience our services. It’s unfortunate that they’ve taken this tactic to try to thwart innovation that helps consumers save time and money when shopping online.”
As cryptocurrencies emerge from the speculative bloodletting of the past months, believers in the promise of distributed ledger technologies for business and consumer applications are casting about for what comes next.
On our stage at Disrupt San Francisco we’ll be welcoming some of the leading thinkers in how distributed ledgers can create an entirely new architecture for computing and new processes for almost every conceivable transaction framework.
For Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of Hyperledger, distributed ledger technologies represent a powerful path for the future of networked computing — no matter the underlying technology. That’s why Behlendorf –through the Linux Foundation — is investing resources in ensuring that viable open source distributed ledger projects are supported and coming to market for any number of applications for businesses and consumers.
One of the leading lights of the internet revolution, Behlendorf’s career shaping the future of the networked world began in 1993 when he co-founded Organic Inc. — the first business dedicated to building commercial websites. Going on to become one of the foundational architects of the Apache http protocol, Behlendorf has served as the chief technology officer of the World Economic Forum and as an executive director for the technology investment fund, Mithril Capital.
Meanwhile, Parity Technologies is attempting to ensure that businesses don’t need to worry about the underlying technologies at all. Selling a suite of services that are all enabled by distributed ledger technologies and cryptographic computing, Jutta Steiner is giving businesses a way through the maze of competing protocols with a service that can enable the creation and adoption of distributed apps for businesses.
“We see it as a way for people to build blockchains that fulfill their particular needs,” Steiner told our own Samantha Stein at our Blockchain event earlier this year in Zug. “One of the challenges we’re addressing in this is to come up with a scalable framework.”
Before Parity, Steiner was responsible for security and partner integration within the Ethereum Foundation when the public blockchain first launched in 2015. Steiner also co-founded Project Provenance — a London based start-up that employs blockchain technology to make supply chains more transparent.
Supply chains are at the heart of Tradeshift’s offerings — and the company is hoping that distributed ledgers will be too. That’s why the company created Tradeshift Frontiers, an innovation lab and incubator that will focus on transforming supply chains through emerging technologies, such as distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
“The use cases we’re working through Frontiers cover a very wide variety of themes, including supply chain financing, asset liquidity, and supply chain transparency,” said Gert Sylvest, co-founder and GM of Tradeshift Frontiers, at the time. “There is so much more potential than just cryptocurrencies.”
That potential will be one of the things that Sylvest, Steiner, and Behlendorf discuss. We’ll hope you’ll be in the audience to listen.
Disrupt SF will take place in San Francisco’s Moscone Center West from September 5 to 7. The full agenda is here, and you can still buy tickets right here.
Netflix today announced that it will release a second season of Lost in Space, the big-budget sci-fi program that debuted in April.
More Danger, Will Robinson. Lost in Space Season 2 is coming. pic.twitter.com/SBEbJaKUIi
— Lost In Space (@lostinspacetv) May 14, 2018
The series is a revamp of the original show from the 1960s. Season One, which included 10 episodes, follows the Robinson family on their journey from Earth to Alpha Centauri. Along the way, they stumble across extraterrestrial life and a wide array of life-or-death situations.
Many of the elements from the original show have been reimagined, not least of which being the role of Mr. Smith going to Parker Posey, who plays the delightfully wicked villain.
We reviewed the show on the Original Content podcast in this episode, and struggled to find any meaningful flaws.
The IPO window continues to remain open as SurveyMonkey, which last raised money in 2014 at a $2 billion valuation, announced today that it has confidentially filed to go public.
SurveyMonkey can file confidentially with the SEC through the JOBS act signed in 2012, which allows those companies to test the waters before they formally release an S-1. It’s increasingly popular as it allows the companies an opportunity to get a gut check while investors appear to have at least some of an appetite for fresh IPOs, while not having to spill publicly the entire financial guts of the company. SurveyMonkey is also the latest of a wave of enterprise IPOs in the past six months or so. There’s still plenty that can change given that it’s a confidential filing. We won’t know how much money the company wants to raise, what its business even looks like or any of the other granular details of the IPO.
SurveyMonkey gives businesses a way to submit surveys to their customers and try to more seamlessly gather feedback about products, customer service or anything else that a company might be able to measure based on those responses. In an era where tracking all of that data becomes increasingly important thanks to more robust predictive tools and considerably more processing power to make those projections, SurveyMonkey’s data is likely even more valuable than it was when it raised funding in 2014. SurveyMonkey on its own end, too, might be easily able to understand how people are actually rating the companies they work with.
Dropbox and DocuSign are the most recent successful IPOs, both valued at more than $10 billion at this point. But there are companies like Zuora, which went public in April, zScalar and others that have seen significant success after they went public. That means there’s plenty of demand for companies that are about to go public, which is where the saying of the “IPO window being open” comes from.
Domino’s will now deliver your pizza to the beach — well, sort of! Or the park, the sports field, that one gas station down the road or some notable landmark in your city where it will be easy for your delivery driver to find you, among other places. The company announced today the launch of more than 150,000 “Domino’s Hotspots,” which are locations that don’t have a traditional delivery address, like a home or business address. Instead, hotspots are just places where customers can meet up with their driver to accept a delivery order when they’re not at home or work.
But while the headlines proclaim Domino’s is coming to you at the beach or park, don’t expect the delivery driver to traipse across the hot sand to your towel or down a walking path into the woods — there are limits to how off-the-grid these deliveries will go.
Instead, “beach” and “park” deliveries are about getting pizza to your unconventional but easily accessible location — like poolside at your beach hotel, a public beach access parking lot or a covered shelter at a park. (I scanned a good chunk of the Florida coast and found no hotspots actually delivering “beachside.” Sorry!)
Of course, it’s been possible to convince a delivery driver to meet you somewhere unusual in the past. But you’d normally have to negotiate that over the phone — with varying degrees of success and confusion. With Domino’s Hotspots, however, you’ll actually be able to search for these meet-up spots online or in the Domino’s mobile app and place an order digitally.
In addition to non-traditional locations like parks and pools, other hotspots available at launch include the Tommy Lasorda Field of Dreams in Los Angeles and the James Brown statue in Augusta, Georgia, for example. We also poked around in the app and found hotspots for locations like the pool and clubhouse in a neighborhood or hotel, the office at schools and colleges and spots nearby other businesses, like grocery stores, malls, gas stations and more.
Those latter locations are the kind of places where people outside of Domino’s delivery zones in more rural areas will often meet up to take a pizza delivery.
To use the new feature, customers will select the hotspot as the delivery destination in the app or online, then leave additional instructions that can help the driver find them, including their mobile phone number. When their order is complete, they’ll get text message alerts about the delivery’s progress, including the estimated time of arrival at the hand-off spot.
Despite its name, Domino’s Hotspots don’t offer a Wi-Fi connection. So expect to bring a phone with a good signal so you can receive those alerts.
“We listened to customers and their need for pizza delivery to locations without a traditional address,” said Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA, in a statement about the launch. “We know that delivery is all about convenience, and Domino’s Hotspots are an innovation that is all about flexible delivery options for customers.”
In recent years, Domino’s has invested heavily in digital, including with its Anywhere platform, which allows for ordering via SMS, voice, smart TVs, connected devices, cars, smartwatches, chat apps like Messenger, Slack and more. It also offers in-app order tracking, and experiments with future tech, like delivery by robot and drone.
While some of its initiatives feel more gimmicky than others (e.g. order by tweeting a pizza emoji), the company’s commitment to digital along with other changes like store remodels has helped push its stock up 5,000 percent since 2008.
It now sees more than 60 percent of orders in the U.S. coming in from digital platforms, and delivery accounts for around 65 percent of orders.
Digital technology investments are also critical, given the competition not only from other pizza chains, but newer food delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub/Seamless, DoorDash and those that will bring you groceries — including stores’ quick meal kits and prepared foods — to your door, like Amazon’s Whole Foods (via Prime Now), Shipt, Instacart and more.
You can check to see which Domino’s Hotspots are near you from the website www.dominos.com/hotspots.
French startup Alan closed a $28.3 million Series A round a few months ago. Index Ventures is leading the round, Xavier Niel is participating as well as existing investors CNP Assurances, Partech and Portag3 Ventures LP.
Alan wants to make health insurance as simple as subscribing to a software-as-a-service product. It starts with clear pricing and transparent reimbursement policies. For instance, you can cover a 30-year-old employee for €55 per month.
The price will be exactly the same for all types of companies. The only thing that changes is that you’ll pay a bit less for younger employees and more for older employees. Each employee can choose to cover their significant other for the same price, and their kids for an extra €40 per month.
And then, Alan is following the startup playbook. The overall user experience is much nicer than the interface of a traditional health insurance.
You get a modern dashboard where you can control and view all your health expenses, a mobile app and good customer support. You can also add life insurance from CNP Assurances from the same interface.
This simple promise seems to be working quite well as Alan now covers 7,000 employees across 850 companies. As you can see, the startup has been focusing on small companies as it’s easier to make them switch.
Alan co-founder and CEO Jean-Charles Samuelian also told me that small companies are underserved by big insurance companies. There’s no reason you should pay more because you work for a small company.
With today’s funding round, Alan wants to offer the same product at scale. The company plans to grow from 22 employees right now to 80 employees by December 2018.
“The goal is to reach €100 million in annual recurring revenue as quickly as possible,” Samuelian told me. The startup currently generates between €5 and €6 million in annual recurring revenue.
Eventually, Alan wants to expand beyond France and address other European markets. While the U.S. seems like a big market, it’s already quite crowded. Samuelian thinks there will be a bigger opportunity by building a European company. It’ll take quite a bit of time as regulation is different in each European country.
Recently, Alan has been focused on building a solid infrastructure, optimizing processes and automating tasks. In many ways, Samuelian still thinks about Alan as a tech company. “We want to build the Apple or Google of Europe,” he said.
Alan can beat competitors on price and flexibility by building a tech product that actually works — that’s how you can serve 7,000 people with a lean team.
Disclosure: I share a personal connection with an executive at CNP Assurances.
Microsoft is using the 3D optimization startup it bought last year to give it an in to the “mixed reality” enterprise market.
Simplygon has previously had a heavy skew towards gaming services with technology that allowed developers more freedom over the kind of detail they offered end users. True to the name, Simplygon allowed companies to optimize 3D data and simplify (reduce) polygon counts of 3D files for devices that might not have the compute to handle them in their raw glory.
In the past this has been a much easier solution but it still required a fair amount of leg work from developers. With this new update, the company is aiming to make the experience a lot more automatic than the old method, which left developers building a ton of recipes that they would still have to implement and manage.
Today, the company is announcing some changes that will expand its sights beyond gaming and hook its claws into the enterprise world, specifically the manufacturing space, as it adds support for JT and STEP file formats that are among the most common CAD file types.
The company announced in December, that the company would be integrating Simplygon into its Azure cloud services, so their desire to expand its utility to more customers isn’t a shock. Microsoft is emphasizing that a big focus of this shift is on its mixed reality platform so that files can seamlessly be viewed in the appropriate detail on a HoloLens or a desktop PC or a VR headset.
In a blog post, the company doubled down, saying, “CAD support for Simplygon empowers more industries to painlessly and efficiently bring their existing assets into mixed reality.”
Facebook is hosting its F8 developer conference in San Jose this week. The event comes at an interesting time for the company. In response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it made a couple of sudden changes to how developers can access some data on its platform. We expect Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to address these questions head-on at the outset of the keynote, which is scheduled to start at 10am PT/1pm ET/19:00 CET.
In addition to more mea culpas with regard to the company data privacy failings and how it plans to control the spread of fake news on its platform, we expect quite a large number of announcements around Facebook’s other core developer programs. These include AR and VR announcements from its Oculus unit (including the standalone Oculus Go headset), as well updates to its various live video initiatives.
F8 is also typically a time for Facebook to talk about its open-source developer tools like React, React Native and GraphQL, though some of that may happen during the day 2 keynotes tomorrow, too.
You can watch the keynote here and we will also embed the live video below once it goes live.
YouTube has rolled out its music streaming service to a bunch more international markets, adding 12 new countries today, and also launching the premium music video version of the service across the full 17 markets.
In February CEO YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki discussed the company’s ambitious expansion plans for the service, saying it was intending to expand to as many as 100 countries.
The first markets for YouTube Music were the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea. The additional markets being added today are: Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
YouTube launched the streamlining revamp of its subscription service offerings in May, routing a streaming music service, called YouTube Music, in pay monthly and ad-supported flavors (the latter with pared back features), to replace Google Play Music; and also announcing YouTube Premium (formerly called YouTube Red) — for music with video streaming.
It also announced new apps and web player in tandem with the service restructuring — which includes features such as dynamic custom recommendations; expansive search options (search by lyrics or generic description); and “thousands” of playlists across genre, mood and activity.
The audio only YouTube Music offering — which in the US is priced at $9.99 monthly (or $14.99 for a family plan) — is intended to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. While YouTube Premium includes a full video service, albeit for $2 more ($11.99) per month than the YouTube Red service it replaced. (Or $17.99 per month for a Family Plan.) Though it’s currently running a promotion offering the premium service free for the first three months.
As well as offering ad-free music streaming, YouTube Premium includes background listening/playing and downloads across all the platform. Members also get access to all YouTube Originals shows and movies.
The company says current members of YouTube Red and Google Play Music members (including family plans) in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico will automatically receive access to YouTube Premium at their current price.
While Google Play Music subscribers in all other countries will automatically receive access to YouTube Music Premium at their current price as it becomes available in their markets. It also claims nothing is changing for subscribers of Google Play Music — saying users will still be able to access all their purchased music, uploads and playlists.