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AI is the future, and there was certainly no shortage of news in the space yesterday. The Hustle Sponsored by Eye-robot: AI is taking over, but this robo revolution isn’t what Will Smith expected They may not look like robo-humans...
By: Wes Schlagenhauf
October 24, 2018
AI is the future, and there was certainly no shortage of news in the space yesterday.
Eye-robot: AI is taking over, but this robo revolution isn’t what Will Smith expected
They may not look like robo-humans from I, Robot, but AI bots are becoming an all-too-real part of daily life.
From AI bots that track eyeballs to robo-operators that queue up sales calls, here’s a roundup of some of the newest AI bots on the block:
EyeSight doesn’t trust distracted humans to drive cars
AI-powered cars aren’t smart enough to drive (yet). But, thanks to Israeli startup EyeSight, AI-powered cars are smart enough to know when human drivers are doing something stupid.
EyeSight, which just raised $15m, uses facial recognition processing and AI to track drivers’ ‘eye-openness,’ gaze direction, and head position to determine attentiveness. When a driver gets distracted by a hilarious meme, the system switches over to self-driving mode.
The EU will require driver monitoring systems (DMS) by 2020, meaning more distracted-driver watch-bots are on the way.
Bright Machines thinks not enough factories use robots
Factories that require actual human labor are so last century -- at least, that’s what manufacturing automation startup Bright Machines believes.
Investors seem to agree: Bright Machines raised a whopping $179m Series A to shake things up across the factory floor.
Bright Machines takes a software-centric approach to automating factories, updating both the robots and their operating systems.
Afiniti thinks it is smart enough to make telemarketing not suck
By combining AI and behavioral science to analyze customer calls, Afiniti helps companies avoid pissing people off -- and gain an average 4.87% in telesales.
The ‘behavioral pairing’ startup raised $130m at a $1.6B valuation, which means that the company’s value increased 10x in just the past year after 5 consecutive years of growing revenue at least 100%.
AI-powered sales tech is taking off: Just yesterday, People.ai raised $30m to expand its AI-powered sales-rep tracking system.
That’s alotta bot
Area 1 offers cybersecurity a la carte with its new ‘pay-per-phish’ plan
Yesterday, cybersecurity startup Area 1 announced a first-of-its-kind ‘pay-per-phish’ pricing model after it closed a $32m funding round.
As cybercrime increases, well-funded cybersecurity startups are popping up left and right -- but their clients are proving more difficult to reel in.
Too many phishermen, not enough phishing
The problem of phishing, or stealing personal digital information -- not to be confused with ‘fishing’ (removing marine creatures from water) or ‘Phish-ing’ (following a jam band across the country) -- costs American businesses $500m+ per year.
And, though it’s expected to bring in $114B this year, it seems the cyber-security industry has outpaced consumer need -- pulling in a 100% increase in funding despite just a 12.4% increase in client spending.
Only pay for the phish you catch
High, flat-rate fees for cybersecurity services scare off many clients who are uncertain that cybersecurity systems even work (thanks for ruining it for everyone, MacKeeper).
But, Area 1’s ‘pay-per-phish’ model charges $10 for every phish caught, eliminating both skepticism about cybersecurity’s effectiveness and confusion about its price.
Today, only Area 1 offers phish a la carte. But with phishing on the rise, competitors will likely adjust to phishing’s new market price.
Helios and Matheson distances itself from struggling MoviePass
Parent company Helios and Matheson announced it will separate MoviePass into a new subsidiary called “MoviePass Entertainment Holdings Inc” -- boosting the data analytics company’s shares 42% with the announcement.
According to TechCrunch, Helios and Matheson had a specific idea in mind for MoviePass when they acquired it last year -- and it wasn’t to get moviegoers a too-good-to-be-true subscription deal. It was to generate data about the industry and leverage its findings for targeted advertising.
Not even a big data company could see this train wreck coming
MoviePass has blown up since it was founded in 2011, but it has had a rough 2018 after its popularity began to blast past its profits.
Since then, it’s been a horror show for Helios and Matheson, which, according to its press release, is tired of being “synonymous” with its struggling acquisition.
The data analytics company reported an average cash deficit of $45m for both June and July, and took a $100m loss in Q2 that forced it to sell over $1.2B in equity debt.
But, Helios and Matheson have their own dirty laundry
On Oct. 17, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood opened a probe into MoviePass’ parent company to investigate whether the company committed ‘securities fraud’ by misleading investors about its financials.
Helios and Matheson claims to have released its public disclosures in a “complete, timely, and truthful” manner. That said, one single acquisition doesn’t usually decimate a company’s entire market share (currently valued at $30m) so the AG is right to be curious.
Harley-Davidson’s profits get a boost from international sales, while US sales continue to spin out
Look, the company’s been haulin a** for 115 years, and besides its pristine machinery, the sultan of ’sphalt has a little thing called worldwide brand prestige -- and it’s kind of the only thing keeping the company afloat.
Thanks to improved international sales, and its 115th anniversary rallies, Harley-Davidson reported higher quarterly earnings over last quarter, despite the fact that its US motorcycle sales dropped 13% -- its lowest quarterly drop in 8 years.
Living like you’re Steven Seagal in the ’90s ain’t exactly realistic
Of course, HD has been affected by the tariffs imposed on US motorcycles from the EU, but there are also a few other reasons:
First, much like a good Steven Seagal reference, all the people who would get them are getting too old to be riding hogs.
When baby boomers were in their 20s, Harley hit some of its best income-earning years in the company’s history. Now they’ve aged out, and young Americans are more hybrid-happy than ever.
Plus, why buy a new Harley, when you can buy an old one for less money? According to Harley’s CFO John Olin, used Harley prices are at historic lows right now (though, on the rise) and are actually hurting sales of new momo's.
Yet they still bring in the cash
The world’s largest moto-facturer still managed to earn $113.9m this quarter, up a whopping 67% from $68.2m in the same period last year.
A 2.6% increase in international sales contributed to the company’s reported $1.32B in revenue this quarter, up nearly 15% from a year ago.
ATTN: readers in New York, Washington D.C., Philly, and Boston
Your internet is about to get fast. Really, really fast.
In terms of first-world hardships, a slow internet connection ranks inline with a woefully under-liked Instagram post and a lost Amazon package -- it’s infuriating.
So don’t settle for lots of buffering circles or laggy gameplay: If you live in New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, or Boston, there’s something you can do about it.
Verizon Fios Gigabit Connection: this ain’t your daddy’s internet
With Verizon Fios’ up to 940/880 Mbps speeds, going online is a whole new rodeo. Enjoy less buffering, game virtually lag-free, stream 4k easily, and have more bandwidth than you know what to stream with.
Fios is a 100% fiber-optic network, meaning it’s internet built for the needs of today -- Plus, if you sign up soon, Verizon will throw in up to a $500 credit to help cover an early termination fee. That’s right. Verizon will help PAY for you to cut the cord of your current provider.
As if that wasn’t enough (Hint: it was) they’ll also throw in a $100 Visa Prepaid Card for your troubles when you sign up online. It’s basically the internet gift that keeps on giving.