July 12 – 5 Key Stories From The Digital World

By July 11, 2019 Insight

1. 1M Users & Growing: 20+ Fintech Startups That Have Crossed The 1 Million Account Mark — And How They Got There

  • In aggregate, these companies have added 200M+ accounts over the last 10 years, and have raised $7.68B in combined equity funding since launching
  • Most valuable: Coinbase – $8B valuation. Most well-funded: SoFi – $2.45B in equity funding at a $4.8B valuation.
  • Coinbase, specifically, was one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges in the US — amassing 20 million users within just 2 years. This is more than incumbent brokerages like E-Trade — which has been in the market for nearly 4 decades — has managed to acquire, having seen less than 5 million customers in total.

2. Waymo’s self-driving system has driven 10 billion virtual miles

  • 10 million miles Waymo’s self-driving vehicles have driven in the real world is a feat in and of itself, but that figure is just a tiny fraction of what it has driven in simulation
  • Waymo’s simulation testing allows it to recreate multiple variations of real driving scenarios or to create completely new ones anytime it wants, so that its self-driving technology can learn without the risk of causing or encountering road traffic accidents
  • The company runs the equivalent of 25,000 self-driving cars 24 hours a day in the simulation

3. Venture capitalists are cashing out in a big way

  • Hotly anticipated initial public offerings of Uber, Pinterest, Slack, and Zoom helped the second quarter set a record for US VC exits…VC firms took out $138 billion from exits in the three months to June
  • With nearly $190 billion in exits so far this year, 2019 is already the biggest year for US VC exits of the past decade
  • The increased flow of IPOs is crucial for venture capitalists, who rely on successful exits to justify their investments

4. Facebook’s AI beats human poker champions

  • Facebook AI Research and Carnegie Mellon University today detailed the creation of Pluribus, a poker-playing AI that Facebook claims is the first to beat professionals in Texas Hold’em…bot bested 15 human professionals, all of whom have won at least $1 million playing poker
  • core of Pluribus’s strategy was computed via self play, in which the AI plays against copies of itself, without any data of human or prior AI play used as input
  • Pluribus won in both 5 humans and 1 AI matches as well as 5 AI and 1 human games. If each chip was worth $1, Pluribus would have made approximately $5 on each hand and earned roughly $1,000/hour playing against 5 humans

5. AI Trained on Old Scientific Papers Makes Discoveries Humans Missed

  • researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used an algorithm called Word2Vec sift through scientific papers for connections humans had missed
  • algorithm didn’t know the definition of thermoelectric…received no training in materials science. Using only word associations, the algorithm was able to provide candidates for future thermoelectric materials, some of which may be better than those we currently use.
  • To train the algorithm, the researchers assessed the language in 3.3 million abstracts related to material science, ending up with a vocabulary of about 500,000 words. They fed the abstracts to Word2vec, which used machine learning to analyze relationships between words.