We Used a Company Analysis Chatbot to Analyze 50 Unicorns, Here’s What We Got

Which company has a bigger investment in patents – Lyft or Uber? Which tech sector recently suffered from layoffs or legal issues? What kind of newly established companies will face a blue ocean, and who will face a red ocean? Which is investors’ favored industry today, frequently infusing hundreds of millions of dollars, and which one is forgotten, thirsty for money and attention?

In order to answer these questions, one can hire a group of analysts and have them spend a day or two processing data and reviewing the market. However, this time we used the advice of a company analysis chatbot named Emmet to get the information faster.

Meet Emmet: The AI Chatbot for Company Analysis

Emmet is the product of Zirra, a company that built AI-based tools to analyze other companies, currently serving VCs, accredited investors, as well as startups, accelerators and stock exchanges.

Using Emmet (f.k.a Nigel), we get instant smart insights on companies using simple English phrases such as “show me competitors for Uber,” or “opportunities for Github”, or “what are the risks for Airbnb?”.

At this moment, Emmet can produce insights on subjects such as:

-Level of direct competition: Emmet counts up to 20 competitors and evaluates the competition intensity, or the degree of overlap in their offerings. 50% and up is considered as a direct competitor. In our Unicorn analysis, we counted the number of competitors with more than 40% and 50% overlapping offerings.

-Time since last funding: It also calculates how much time has passed since the last funding round for a particular company in units of: 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, two years, three years and longer. A company, or cluster of companies, that has not attracted investors for a substantial amount of time can indicate it is either, 1) suffering from a lack of growth or 2) producing enough cash that allows it to reject investment offers.

-Layoffs: Emmet can detect the occurrences of layoffs that were published in media outlets along with other sources where it is listed on the open web.

-Legal Problems: The chatbot also identifies and determines the total number of legal problems that were published in the media or on litigation websites.

-Patent investment: Normalizing number of patents, Emmet shows them on a scale of 1-5.

To achieve this level of sophistication, Emmet uses a huge array of structured and unstructured data, from multiple sources, and then applies NLP and a variety of A.I. models to analyze companies and markets.

Using direct conversation with Emmet, we analyzed 55 private tech companies (that weren’t being acquired or merged), many of them unicorns, in 11 categories such as ride-hailing apps, self-driving cars or enterprise software. With the help of the tech behind the chatbot we could characterize companies, and clusters of companies, by risk and success criteria, establishing a better notion of their behavior and uniqueness.

Clustering companies into industry segments (i.e. putting Magic Leap, MindMaze, Improbable, Blippar and Niantic into AR/VR category) helped us better understand them, recognizing the uniqueness found in each sector.

Here is the analysis based on the AI chatbot’s findings within some of the reviewed industry segments:

Ride Hailing Apps

Ride Hailing Apps are characterized by a very dynamic funding activity, according to Emmet. In order to keep expanding into new territories, subsidize rides and attract more customers, ride-hailing apps are in constant need of cash. Out of the five companies analyzed here, Uber and Lyft raised hundreds of dollars each in the last three months, while Careem and Ola have done so over the previous six months.

Also, according to the AI chatbot, more ride-hailing apps are in need to create partnerships. Careem, the famous ride-hailing app in Arab countries, announced partnerships with taxi agencies, in-car WiFi providers, and payments services to adapt their service to local communities with local services.

In contrast to what you might have thought about ride-hailing apps, the total number of competitors is low, based on Emmet’s appraisal. After all, how many Ubers and Lyfts are competing for each territory at the same time? However, the intensity of the competition remains rather fierce.

Self-Driving Cars

According to Emmet, self-driving cars technology startups invest in patents, but at an average level that is not so different from most of the startups. Contrary to their innovative, scientific image, their total patent investment is lower even than cybersecurity or adtech firms, in regards to the number of patents.

Food Delivery

Food delivery startups are low on patents but packed with legal issues, according to Zirra’s chatbot.

For example, DoorDash had to pay $5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that had stated that the company misclassified its employees as independent contractors. Instacart settled a class action lawsuit for $4.6 million after being accused of improper tip pooling and failure to reimburse workers for business expenses.

FinTech

We also found quite a few legal issues in the fintech sector. Disruptive, innovative solutions that collide with the incumbent, traditional banking world is a high-risk potential. In addition, finding new models of dealing with people’s money can create lots of legal issues if not done right.

But not all of these lawsuits go around money. SoFi’s CEO Mike Cagney resigned last September following a sexual harassment lawsuit. Credit Karma was sued by the FTC after disabling security certificates, leaving social users’ data vulnerable to attacks.

In addition, funding activity in the Fintech segment is slow, as most of the companies sampled in this analysis didn’t raise funds for more than a year. Investors have cooled down their enthusiasm about fintech in comparison to 2016 or 2015.

Enterprise Software

However, the most dynamic industry segment we’ve seen so far is in enterprise software. Unicorns in this area are frequently funded, rated high on patent investment and partnership activity. However, they also suffer from a high degree of competition with other companies who have a similar offering, higher than any other industry segment examined in this project. This may also explain the high rate of layoffs in the enterprise software sector.

Are VR, AR and Drones still Trendy?

 Other notable tech segments that didn’t raise money recently include drones (19 months on average since prior investment), AR/VR (13 months), and adtech (more than two years). The data supports the fact that AR, VR, and drones are buzzwords that attract less money these days than what it used to be one or two years ago. Flying cars, self-driving cars, and ride-hailing companies were probably much more relevant to investors in 2017.

Adtech

The adtech industry has suffered a blow after it had been accused of creating ad networks and servers that generated profit from an arbitrage in media trading. Consequently, our research shows the industry is highly competitive and experiences layoffs. Investors also have not put their money into this industry for more than two years on average.

Emmet, our chatbot, is just making its first steps into the world of AI-based company analysis.

It’s not perfect but its ability to find critical data and present it within seconds, like no human analyst can do, provides great benefits. Over time, we’ll be adding probabilistic NLP techniques to find new sorts of information, producing more elaborate and accurate insights.

The days when a chatbot will be able to supply analysts and investors with insights needed to make an investment – including private companies – are not far off.

About Zirra

Zirra’s platform offers users company analysis tools powered by data science and machine learning. Zirra’s customers include global and enterprise brands such as Microsoft Ventures, Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, Silverlake, and Verizon Ventures.

Recognized by the Office of the Chief Scientist in Israel, Zirra is backed by top-tier investors such as Moshe Lichtman, former Corporate VP at Microsoft and now a general partner at IGP, AOL’s Nautilus (now Verizon ventures), Professor Dan Galai, co-inventor of the VIX Index, and Professor Zvi Weiner, Dean of the Business School at the Hebrew University.

Professors Galai and Weiner are both globally recognized researchers in the field of company rating and market risk analysis.

 

How High Will Airobotics’ Drone Fly?

By Assaf Gilad and Dan Schwartzman

Is it a plane or a bird? Neither. It’s actually Airobotics autonomous drone – perhaps the most flexible autonomous drone today. Its ability to fulfill a multitude of missions and stay as long as possible in the air, according to a Zirra’s series of research reports on Drone companies, is what makes this product so impressive.

Airobotics offers an end-to-end automated industrial drone platform, tailored for inspection of complex industrial environments including mining, seaports, factories, oil, and gas. The system contains airbase landing dock, drones and a software that enables mission planning with repeatable pre-programmed flight scheduling, eliminating the need for a drone pilot or operator.

Using Airobotics’ end-to-end platform, companies can set up an airbase on their property and benefit from having a drone present at all times for tasks like surveillance, equipment inspections, inventory calculations, mapping, and other functions. The Airobotics solution is automated, meaning no drone operator is needed, and a drone can be launched at any time with no delay, or be scheduled for pre-set missions.

Airobotic’s advantage over the others, or its IP, is found in its secretive landing mechanism (It’s for drones to take off, much harder to land at an exact spot). While the Verge called Airobotics’ airbase “the most high-tech landing pad, we’ve seen from a drone company yet.”

Another valuable IP, the company, holds relates to its charging system, a set of mechanical devices that allows the drone to land, replace a battery, and take off instantly after. Airobotics even employs execs from Better Place, a company that tried to develop electric cars with a battery replacing mechanism.

**This post is based on a series of deep analysis reports dedicated to drone companies. If you wish to order a deep analysis report on a startup company, search it and order the report here **

Unclarity About the Drone Market

The first impression of the worldwide drone market is that of climbing in a right, 45 degree line. After all, there are more drones in the sky: in social events, in parties, and maybe in your neighbor’s yard. Amazon Prime Air launches a new development or a trial each day, and more and more e-commerce retailers join the effort to develop a fleet of delivery drones of their own.

But this picture is somehow misleading. The consumer drones market has been taken over by Chinese giant DJI, pushing aside American 3D Robotics to pivot from drones producing software. Dozens of drone companies had to shut down or pivot. Even Alphabet had pulled out from its plans to beam the Internet from the sky using its Titan drone program, and Facebook has been struggling with its similar project, Aquila.

The drone delivery market is still in its cradle thanks to the lack of proper regulation and the immaturity of the delivery drones, short of adequate reliability, such that will make them safe from falling from the sky while delivering a pizza.

Is the drone market growing? It depends on who you ask.

The market in which Airobotics operates, the industrial UAV drone market, is highly competitive. However, it is open to a large range of industries, including defense, agriculture, land management, energy, and construction, creating a larger market base.

According to PWC, the total addressable value of drone-powered solutions in applicable industries is estimated at over $127 billion in 2016. That figure represents the value of businesses and labor in eight industries that may be replaced by drones, including energy, roads, railways, and oil and gas. For instance, key drone applications in infrastructure like investment monitoring, maintenance, and asset inventory are estimated to represent a $45 billion of the total $127 billion addressable drone market.

Current estimates expect the market revenue from drone sales to grow from $10.1B in 2015 to $14.9B by 2020. According to a report published by MarketsandMarkets, the UAV market is forecasted to reach $28.27B by 2022 growing at a CAGR of 13.51%.

A drone takes off at Airobotic’s HQ in Petah-Tikva

The belief is that growth in revenue for the industrial drone market will outpace that of the consumer drone market, once regulations have opened up. However research firm IBISWorld see the things differently. According to the company, revenue for the UAV industry soared to a peak in 2010 but has since sharply declined in about 8% from 2010 to 2015 in the US due to a decrease in primary combat missions and congressional efforts to shrink the US federal budget deficit. However, in the next five years leading up to 2020, the relaxation of regulations on the export and commercial use of drones is expected to provide new growth opportunities for the industry.

DJI – and all the rest

Chinese drone manufacturer DJI dominates the drone market, with 70% market share. Other companies struggle to match DJI’s prices, and as a result, have chosen to focus on software or drone add-ons rather than compete with DJI on hardware. 3D Robotics, once DJI’s American competitor, had run out of the drone manufacturing business, had to shut down its production line and pivoted into a software. Autodesk now invests in the company to turn it into a flying scanner. 3D provides now a fully autonomous drone with a Sony camera and software, scanning a construction or manufacturing site, and building a CAD plan. In that way, 3D Robotics may escape a fierce competition with DJI, just to compete directly with a bunch of other full-stack drone startups, such as Kespry, DroneDeploy, and Airobotics.

While Airobotics has raised $28.5M, competitor DroneDeploy has raised $31M, Kespry has $28.35M in funding, and Skycatch has raised $46.67M to build an app to automate data capture, map territories, and enhance flight control. 3D Robotics has received $126.08M in funding, but spent most of it on an unsuccessful drone and have since pivoted to just doing software. In their recent re-incarnation, they have raised $26.7 million in debt and warrants.

But Airobotics is not merely a software company, although it has some proprietary flight management and cloud system. Much of Airobotics’ solution focuses on high-end and expensive hardware. Therefore, the effectiveness of the company’s complete end-to-end solution may convince some large industrial customers to pay the higher prices.

Software companies compensate for the lack of hardware through partnerships, such as Swiss drone producer senseFly signing an agreement with agricultural data gathering software company MicaSense and US drone services company Airware acquiring French drone analytics company Redbird as well as partnering with DJI for hardware. Through these partnerships, some companies that offer much less complete solutions than Airobotics can provide bundled services that compete more fully, often at lower prices.

There are some signs of consolidation in the drone industry, as evidenced by Airware’s acquisition of Redbird and Verizon buying drone operations company Skyward. However, Airobotics’ focus on an end-to-end solution may lessen their chances of being acquired by another company looking for particular expertise or products and may mean that the firm’s main path is to grow and compete with other industry leaders on their own.

Airobotics’ workshop

Pricing

There are doubts in the industry about Airobotic’s pricing and the viability of competing with market leader DJI in the drone hardware market. Airobotics does not publicize pricing, but our sources agree on the fact that Airobotics’ solution is expensive.

WIRED magazine wrote that Airobotics charges a monthly fee of “tens of thousands of dollars per unit” – for the drone, its software and servicing. In comparison, the DJI Phantom 4 PRO is considered one of the most advanced drones available (although it is mostly for consumer use) and is priced at $1,499, although this price is just a one-time payment for the drone itself. Pricing is unclear. But Airware, a company that presented a commercial drone for industrial use cases, is pricing its drones at $2,500 per drone per year.

It’s the regulation, stupid

Regulations are a continuing issue for drones. The company has noted that it currently works with clients on private property and that the regulation for operating in public spaces is still too limiting for the time being.

However, The Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) was the first in the world to authorize commercial, entirely unmanned drone flight in their nation’s airspace, and it gave Airobotics the first license ever to do so. With this license, Airobotics will be the world’s first drone company to enjoy the freedom to fly autonomous drones for business purposes, on-site and on condition, the drone does not cross the customer’s facility’s borders. In the country, Airobotics already operates some drones in ICL factory in the Dead Sea, mapping phosphate piles, and securing Intel’s facilities in Kiryat Gat. However, the company’s growth in the U.S is restricted until the FAA will not solve the problem in the same way Israel did it.

The future of industrial drones… Delivering a pizza?

Airobotics and the entire commercial drone industry sees mining, oil & gas, seaports, and other industrial facilities as their primary target markets. In the long term, Co-Founder & CEO Ran Krauss has spoken of drones like theirs eventually being used in cities, initially in functions like emergency response, and eventually in everyday commercial use in services like package delivery, precise mapping for autonomous cars, real estate, and construction.

The industrial drone market is promising and is just opening up, as regulations develop and drones become more accepted. Additionally, Airobotics and their products have received positive reviews. However, the company has only worked with a limited number of customers and is seen as relatively expensive. To succeed, it is likely Airobotics will have to focus on lowering costs and gaining market share by adding a significant number of large customers in the industrial sector.

This post is based on a series of deep analysis reports dedicated to drone companies. If you wish to order a deep analysis report on a startup click here, search a company and order the report.

**This post is based on a series of deep analysis reports dedicated to drone companies. If you wish to order a deep analysis report on a startup company, search it and order the report here **