Only four Western and two Chinese AI companies report income, and all have big losses. CrowdStrike and c3.ai both did IPOs and had losses equal to 30% and 40% of revenues respectively in 2019, and 13% and 40% respectively in 2020. Nest’s losses were 85% of revenues in 2017[1] and DeepMind’s losses were four and 1.7 times its revenues in 2018[2] and 2019 respectively[3] causing Google to write off $1.3 Billion in debts. For China, Megvii’s cumulative losses had reached $1.4 billion by the first half of 2019, or 2.5 times cumulative revenues[4]. CloudMinds reported a net loss of US$97.48…

Small Impact of Lockdowns on Startup Unicorn Profits:

Only 7 of 69 Are Profitable in 2020, Up From 6 in 2019

Seven of 70 Unicorn Startups were profitable in the first three quarters of 2020 and only three of them were profitable in 2019 (See figure). Zoom, Etsy, and Green Sky were profitable in both 2019 and 2020 with profits for both Zoom and Etsy increasing in 2020. Oportun, Square, Sunrun, two fintech and one solar installer went from profitable in 2019 to unprofitable in 2020. Three e-commerce startups, Peloton, Wayfair and Purple Innovation, and one cloud storage startup, Dropbox…

The sharing economy was supposed to change the world. Driven by the diffusion of smart phones and new services, many expected that cars, rooms, bikes, scooters, and household items such as musical instruments, designer bags and sporting equipment would be shared at a huge level, thus reducing private ownership, and wasteful production, logistics, and energy usage[i]. But this future has not emerged, despite phones getting cheaper, somewhat better, and much more widely used.

Consider ride sharing. It was supposed to reduce ownership of private cars as people find it more economical to rely on ride sharing services, particularly as driverless…

By Understanding the Technology

Business schools claim that it is not the technology, it is the business model but to understand the two most critical aspects of the business model, the value proposition, and customers, one must understand the technology. What does the technology offer that is better than the previous technology? Will the advantages translate into lower costs and/or a higher willingness to pay, and thus happy customers, profits for investors, and good pay for employees? And how do we translate these advantages into a value proposition, one that should evolve as the technology gets better?

Advantages and value…

The six profitable Unicorn startups (out of 73) did IPOs many years ago and no Unicorn startup among those announcing or doing an IPO since Zoom in August 2019 were profitable in 2019 (or 2020). This suggests that the privately held Unicorns, ones that have yet to do IPOs, are mostly unprofitable and thus the record low profitability of startups is likely to get worse. With a global valuation of $1.9 …

Yesterday’s semiconductor research and startups created jobs and products for everyone while today’s biotech mostly creates science and engineering jobs and products for high-income people.

Inequality has become one of the biggest issues of our time, particularly to liberal Democrats. And the concern is well founded. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century documented rising inequality in the U.S. and other developed countries over the last 100 years. His book brought the issue of inequality to the forefront of the Democratic with proposals such as a minimum guaranteed income.

But what about universities? Don’t they exacerbate inequality through high salaries…

Which technologies were successfully commercialized in each decade, going back to the 1880s? Successful is an important yet vague word meaning that the technology should have added value in the relevant decade, it should have significantly diffused during the decade of introduction, and the suppliers should have become profitable. I made this list by looking at a variety of sources that describe the most important technologies commercialized in various decades, much of which is consistent with Robert Gordon’s book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth. Looking at the technologies commercialized in past decades (See table), this article, the 18th…

The small number of companies on the Fortune 500 or 100 for both 1955 and 2020 is not due to creative destruction, and it does not symbolize the strength of the U.S. economy, as some claim. For instance, the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) analysis found that only 52 companies on the Fortune 500 in 1955 were still on the list in 2020, a conclusion I do not dispute. It claims that “The fact that nearly nine of every 10 Fortune 500 companies in 1955 are gone, merged, reorganized, or contracted demonstrates that there’s been a lot of market disruption, churning…

Only 8 of 25 Chinese-Ex Unicorns have had higher share price increases than did the Nasdaq between their IPO and January 7, 2020. The Nasdaq is used for comparison because many Chinese startups have done their IPOs in the U.S., and the Nasdaq is America’s most representative index for high-tech startups. January 7, 2020 is used to avoid the impacts from the lockdown, which has created extreme volatility in global stock markets. This also means that Unicorn IPOs done in 2020 are not included in the table.

These figures are roughly consistent with the results for U.S. ex-Unicorns, results that…

Eighteen of 32 Chinese-Ex Unicorns are unprofitable or delisted (See below table), and many privately held Unicorns are also likely unprofitable. These Unicorns were valued at $1B or more while they were privately held, and the prefix “ex” means they have done IPOs and thus regularly report income. Only those startups defined as Unicorns after 2013, which was when Aileen Lee first described the phenomenon[i], and before 2018 are listed in the table. Newer unicorns are ignored because they will have had fewer years to achieve top 100 market capitalization and become profitable.

The 18 of 32 (58%) figure is…

jeffrey lee funk

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store