What a start to the year it has been. While Aryelle is out on vacation, I’ll be taking over the news round-up for the week. And quite a bit has been going down in the business world, not to mention crypto continuing to make headlines. But if you take anything from this week’s roundup, it should be to document your passcodes…you never know when you could be 7 letters, 2 special characters, and 3 numbers away from hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Business Buzz
Google gets its steps in. Just this week Alphabet-owned Google closed an acquisition of Fitbit. This has been a long time coming, as the announcement was first made in November of 2019. This is a massive step forward for Google in the wearable technology market. Like many deals in the 21st century, however, the acquisition play raised questions around customer data, seeing as the watch company owns massive amounts of information on users’ health and general habits. Google’s Senior Vice President of devices and services Rick Osterloh explained,
“This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we’ve been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy.”
CEO, President, and Co-Founder, James Park added in a statement to Fitbit users “The trust of our users will continue to be paramount, and we will maintain strong data privacy and security protections, giving you control of your data and staying transparent about what we collect and why.”
Despite the acquisition, Fitbit users will still be able to connect to third-party services through their account according to Park’s announcement.
Watch out, Tesla. As part of a $27B pivot including a rebrand, GM announced this week that it plans to break into the electric vehicle scene. This will begin with package delivery. Last year GM partnered with FedEx Express in a rollout of EP1, a palette that epitomizes the meaning of last-mile delivery…or should I say last few feet? The palette handles the span of the delivery vehicle to the front door, ideally eliminating the issue of haphazardly-placed packages. More recently, the GM team revealed an electric delivery van with a 250-mile range.
This is all part of a new logistics branch, labeled BrightDrop. Pamela Fletcher, VP of GM’s global EV program pegs the release of EP1 for early 2021, followed by the rollout of the electric delivery vans.
The Private Market
A $220M password. Imagine owning 7,002 bitcoin that you can’t access. For Stefan Thomas, this struggle is all too real. The Times profiled the San Franciscan earlier this month just as bitcoin was hitting all-time highs. Thomas has just two tries left to guess his passcode to IronKey, a hard drive that holds access to his digital wallet with his bitcoin. The IronKey gives a user just ten tries to correctly guess a password before permanently encrypting the contents.
But Thomas is not alone in this struggle. The Times reports “Of the existing 18.5 million Bitcoin, around 20 percent — currently worth around $140 billion — appear to be in lost or otherwise stranded wallets.” In fact, there are now companies offering services dedicated to recovering lost digital keys.
The lesson? Maybe take some time this long weekend to set up a password manager.
Two is a coincidence, three is a trend. The latest trend in the online private markets appears to be wearable technology for the visually impaired. This week Eyedaptic launched on the StartEngine portal following NuEyes, another competitor. A few months earlier we saw Sunu close a raise on Republic after being rated a Top Deal.
Senta investors see solid returns. According to Crowdfund Insider, Senta has been acquired by Iris Software Group just this week. The accounting software company sourced early funding via the Seedrs platform. The announcement goes on to claim “that this exit represents the largest percentage return ever on an equity crowdfunding investment on their (Seedrs) platform…First-round investors that took advantage of SEIS tax reliefs on the investment will see a 332x return.” The platform hosts primarily UK-sourced deals but is a major win for the online private markets everywhere.
And exhale. If this past year has taught us anything, it is that mental health should be a priority. 2020 was tough on just about everybody, and employers are noticing. As companies start to rethink office needs, many are also turning to other benefits that include access to apps like Calm and Headspace, two Series C startups both with over $200M in funding. Visual Capitalist predicted both employers and individuals taking wellness more seriously as a major trend for 2021.
The Fun Stuff
You’ve heard of murder hornets. Now get ready for lasso snakes. The discovery that snakes can lasso their bodies to climb was made inadvertently this past week by scientists from Colorado State University and the University of Cincinnati. These tree snakes that are invasive to Guam would put any cowboy to shame. Don’t believe me? Check out the video here.
Wall Street has Morningstar, S&P, and Bloomberg
The equity crowdfunding market has KingsCrowd.
About: Olivia Strobl
Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.