Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘startups’ Category

This Person Does Not Exist…No, Really!

leave a comment »

This one made me laugh out loud: According to a story in the Financial Times, two fifths of artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups don’t use any AI programs in their products.

This from a report by London-based investment firm MMC Ventures, which said it could not find any evidence of AI apps in 40 percent of 2,830 AI start-ups based on public information and interviews with executives.

And yet the companies were often described as AI-focused.

Hey, it’s AI. Everything can be AI when it’s AI. Except when it’s not, which just means the AI is fooling you into thinking it isn’t.

What’s up is down and what’s down is up, and as the White Queen explained in Alice in Wonderland, ”Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This, increasingly, the world we’re moving into. 

Witness the most recent AI phenomenon, ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com, the creation of Uber software engineer Philp Wang.

If you haven’t checked this site out, it’s pretty simple (and yet, under the covers, quite complex): Every time you refresh the site its “generative adversarial network,” which was trained on a massive dataset of real images, produces a new facial image of a non-real person.

Yes, ladies and germs, a real website that creates images of fake people.

So if you thought you weren’t sure whether you could believe those sleazy photos of that sleazy politician were for real…well, now you’ll likely be right.

Then, extrapolate that scenario and multiply it by a gazillion others.

They always said truth was the first casualty of war…I think it’s safe to say you can now append AI to that list. 

Written by turbotodd

March 5, 2019 at 11:11 am

Posted in 2019, AI, startups

Tagged with , , ,

Apple Pays, GDP Strays

leave a comment »

The World Economic Forum has kicked off in Davos, and today the Dow is down some 300 points.

IMF Chair Christine Lagarde cut the global growth forecast for 2019 from 3.7 to 3.5 percent, saying the move was “due to the high level of economic risks that are accelerating around the globe.”

She cited the U.S.-China trade war, Brexit, and China’s slowing economy as factors in the down estimate.

But there are companies out there doing their part to ensure that everybody gets paid. 

For instance, Apple announced that 74 of the top 100 U.S. merchants now accept Apple Pay, including Target and Taco Bell. 

Finally, a reason to really use my Apple Watch for something besides a timer for Trader Joe heat ups!

And speaking of fast food, sorry, but Traders Joe may be the order of the day, as Munchery has announced it is going to end operations effective immediately and will refund any outstanding orders.

Munchery had raised some $125.4 million in venture capital and, according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, its kitchens had reportedly produced many more orders than they sold.

A recipe for ______.

Written by turbotodd

January 22, 2019 at 11:19 am

Chinese Unicorns

leave a comment »

The VC market in China has become hotter than hot, with some even suggesting it’s in bubble territory.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, in the first 11 months of this year, 3,418 new venture-capital and private-equity funds in China raised 1.6 trillion yuan (some $241B U.S.), which was more than double the amount of 2015 and more than 10 times that of 2006.

The data, which comes from Zero2IPO Group, estimates about 12,000 investment firms manage 8.5 trillion yuan in capital.

When it comes to so-called “unicorns,” or those startups valued at over $1B U.S., 59 of the 221 around the world come from China (the U.S. has 127, the U.K. 12, and India, 9).

But…

The financing bonanza has also seen startups wage expensive subsidy wars as they try to grab market share before worrying about profits. Nothing exemplifies the trend as much as the bike-sharing apps. First praised for the convenience they brought, bike-sharing apps such as Ofo and Mobike are now scorned for clogging cities with millions of bikes.
– via WSJ

And…

As in the U.S., easy access to capital in China allows startups to stay private longer. For venture capitalists, that means their shares in those startups get diluted and returns dwindle with each successive funding round. By the time of an IPO, the returns can be much lower than initially expected.
– via WSJ

The inevitable conclusion, the “b” word (“b” for “bubble”) is starting to get thrown around in China.

On the other hand, there are 1.4 billion people living in China, some 18.67% of the population. Meaning, there’s lots of opportunity, and plenty of both red and black on the Chinese entrepreneur roulette wheel for VC and angel investors to place their bets.

Written by turbotodd

December 15, 2017 at 9:30 am

%d bloggers like this: