Don’t text and drive


December 20, 2018

A mobile telematics company that tracks driving performance for insurance companies secured $500m from the SoftBank Vision Fund.
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A company that tracks how distracted you are while driving raises $500m from SoftBank

Cambridge Mobile Telematics announced it sealed half a billion dollars from the SoftBank Vision Fund — the investment pool with a seemingly endless pot of ca$hola.

The infusion will help expand CMT’s DriveWell platform that is already a favorite among insurers, wireless carriers, and others to track driving risk and ultimately help make the roads safer.

The core of ‘behavior-based insurance’

With innovations in mobile sensing, AI, and behavioral science, CMT has become the market leader in mobile telematics, and helped shoehorn the mobile usage-based insurance phenomenon.

Founded in 2010 by Bill Powers (a serial entrepreneur), Hari Balakrishnan, and Sam Madden (both computer science professors at MIT), CMT was the first service to effectively mine sensory data from phones for auto insurance.

The ultimate backseat driver

Insurance providers use this data to measure driving performance, incentivize driving quality, and lower operating costs by reducing crash rates.

Results from the field are pretty solid: The driving feedback, rewards, and contests delivered via the DriveWell platform reduce phone distraction by 35% on average, and at-risk speeding and hard braking by 20%.

Today, the company works in more than 20 countries with a global customer base of several million users.

It sees when you are texting, it knows when you’re unsafe

According to a 2017 CMT study, 73% of drivers want auto rates to be based on how safely they drive. Among the other findings:

  • 52% of crashes involve distracted driving
  • 29% of phone distractions occurred at speeds exceeding 56mph
  • The average duration of these distractions is 135 seconds

Bottom line: While a social-credit-esque driving platform may slightly spell ‘authoritarian boogie man,’ road fatalities have increased 14% since 2015. So… pick your poison.

On that note…
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Seeking prescription profits, pharma giants Glaxo and Pfizer spin off consumer divisions

The pharma giants GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer announced plans to merge their consumer healthcare units yesterday, minting the world’s largest toothpaste titan. 

After offloading their OTC consumer divisions, the 2 pharma giants will focus on their prescription drugs, which are riskier but more profitable.

Emptying out the medicine cabinets

OTC products provide steady, low-margin revenue. But while toothpaste sells, it doesn’t make a huge profit. Instead, prescription drugs make the big money for big pharma: They’re expensive when they fail, but massively profitable when they don’t. 

So as the market has become more competitive, pharma companies have shed ‘non-core’ (AKA non-prescription) businesses. 

Glaxo recently sold off its nutrition division, Pfizer dumped its animal health business, and competitor Bristol-Myers Squibb sold of its French consumer healthcare biz.

Writing a prescription for new profits

The new Glaxo-Pfizer giant will be the largest consumer healthcare biz in the world, with a 7.3% market share and $12.7B in revenue. After shareholder and regulatory approval, the new biz is expected to hit British stock markets in 5 years. 

But the real value of the deal for Glaxo and Pfizer is that it will allow the 2 companies to cut costs by $631.2m per year by 2022, allowing them to invest heavily in R&D for new prescription drugs.

After the announcement, Glaxo’s shares rose as high as 7.4% in London and Pfizer’s rose 0.8% in New York.

» Selling the pharm

Zwift raises $120m to expand its multiplayer fitness video games

Zwift, a startup that combines exercise classes with the solo-socializing of video games, raised $120m to expand.

By drafting on two popular trends (online gaming and group fitness classes), the company plans to expand into a global training and e-sports platform.

The love child of Fortnite and SoulCycle

Zwift’s mission is to make home workouts social, combining the addictively social dimensions of online gaming with the health benefits of a workout class — a 1-2 punch that appeals to a mainstream audience. 

Zwift’s original indoor cycling workouts require a bike, a Zwift bike mount (which tracks progress and adjusts resistance), and an internet-connected TV that can sync with the Zwift app ($15/month).

Right now, 98% of Zwift’s business is built around its biking customers, but it also offers programs for runners and hopes to use its new funding to expand to rowing machines, step machines, and other activities.

Cycling startups are on a roll

SoulCycle and Peloton have both achieved billion-dollar-plus valuations by making fitness cool.

Zwift is capitalizing on the trend, but with the added appeal of gaming. With its new funding round, Zwift wants to double down on its gaming experience by investing in e-sports competitions.

According to CEO Eric Min, Zwift is “approaching unicorn status.” But the company has even loftier aspirations. “Our goal is to bring Zwift to the Olympics,” Min told TechCrunch.

@MA: It’s a little harder to yell at your kids for playing too many video games when they’re simultaneously training for the Tour de France…

   @ Me Anything
Conor Grant, News Writer at The Hustle
@conor_p_grant

It’s a little harder to yell at your kids for playing too many video games when they’re simultaneously training for the Tour de France…
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» Keep pedaling, pal

Temi raises $21m to put robo-assistants in homes across America

VentureBeat reports that Temi, a New York-based robotics startup, is going all in on its new Temi robo-assistant after securing $21m in Series B funding ($83m to date). 

The round was led by Alibaba’s former chief technology officer, John Wu, as well as the Hong Kong-based wellness company Ogawa, which will partner with Temi to help market and distribute bots around the world. 

‘When I was a kid, we had to strap Alexa to a skateboard!’

This ain’t your granny’s robo-assistant. The best way to describe the Temi-bot is an Amazon Echo connected to a plastic torso on wheels. It stands 3 feet tall with a 10-inch tablet for a head, and is equipped with facial recognition to identify and track you.

Temi connects to Google’s AI tools so it can give its users hands-free video chat, allow them to watch TV, or listen to music while roaming around the house… kinda  like a TV that moves. Super necessary. 

Telepresence: 2019’s new buzzword

Facetime on an iPhone is considered telepresence, so it isn’t exactly new, but Temi’s robo-butler is the perfect example of a long-developed submarket finally gettin’ in the mix while the gettin’s growin’.

In 2017, the overall telepresence robot market was valued at $129m; by 2023, it’s expected to reach $312m. But its core growth comes from an increasing demand in the healthcare industry — not for home-bots that can field Spotify requests.

» Siri, go to your room.
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Brace yourself, the January Jitters are coming

You know the feeling… that looming sense of dread as the holiday break dwindles down to its last hurrah. Soon it’s New Year’s Day and then WHAM! 

You’re cursor-deep in reply-all’s asking for the immediate status on the projects that’ve been sitting on the backburner since before Thanksgiving. 

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