5 Things Emmet Could Teach Us About Startups in the News

5 Things Emmet Could Teach Us About Startups in the News

Are you a tech industry addict? Meet Emmet, our digital company and market analyst. Emmet is an AI-powered digital company analyst that is already a celebrity among our customers who have downloaded it to their Slack accounts. But starting today, Emmet is going fully global, and will be accessible for everyone for the first time from Zirra’s website.

Go and try him. Ask him anything about companies, using simple English and the company name such as “Give me facts for Uber,” “What are the risks for Slack,” “Show me traffic for Airbnb,” “Is Coursera hiring?” and “Who is competing with Palantir?”

We asked Emmet a few questions to dive deeper into this week’s most exciting startup news. Here are some of the most interesting insights we got back:

1.The many early signs about Juicero’s situation:

Although it’s easier to speak in hindsight, there were quite a few preliminary signs regarding Juicero’s shut down. If you’re only just coming back from summer break, here is a summary of the news regarding Juicero: The $400 juice machine company that raised $118 million from Silicon Valley’s top VCs, said it’s going to stop selling its products and give customers their money back. The main criticism of the product was it’s high pricing ($700 at the beginning) for a juice machine and juice packs that could be squeezed by hand and did not require a fancy machine.

Even though many could have anticipated Juicero’s demise, there’s always an element of surprise when it finally happens. But using automated analysis techniques such as Zirra’s, one could raise a few red flags long before last week’s official announcement.

Asking Zirra’s NLP-based chat bot for Slack, Emmet produced a few insights about Juicero’s fate:

Let’s validate the data with monitoring Juicero’s traffic in recent months with the help of Emmet:

**Try Emmet here**

2.Who will compete with the flying DeLorean?

There is good news for aerospace lovers and Back to the Future fans this week. Lilium Jet, a German startup that has developed a flying taxi that can take off and land vertically has raised a B round of $90 million from Chinese WeChat operator Tencent, Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom and Ev Williams, Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO.

Lilium’s aircraft can fly at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour for about an hour on a single charge, and its founders are planning it to be used as a flying ferry, hopping rooftops terminals which also be operated by Lilium. Passengers will be able to fly from one rooftop to another within minutes.

Now, we hear a lot about vertical take-offs and landing aircrafts, and some of us have lost track of how many companies are in the race to create a flying taxi. To make order out of chaos, we asked our digital analyst about similar companies to Lilium Jet. Here is the output we got:

Emmet recognized about 20 similar companies, with Aeromobil and e-volo being the most similar, with a degree of similarity of 47% each. Emmet also knew Kitty Hawk, the personal flyer funded by Google’s Larry Page, as a major competitor with 41% degrees of similarity.

As inventor Thomas Edison would have recommended, it is better to measure such disruptive hardware inventions by the number of patents each company holds. Again, we asked Emmet to count patents and trademarks for us, and within seconds we got a patent map on each company. According to our NLP based patents finder, Terrafugia has eight granted patents, which makes it the vertical take-off vehicle company with the highest number of granted patents, surpassing by far all the others. In fact, most of the others have a few registered trademarks on average, and we couldn’t find any other granted patents. However, Terrafugia is a much more established company, having been founded in 2006.

Aeromobil – Pending Trademarks: 2 Registered Trademarks: 2

Terrafugia: Pending Patents: 3 Registered Trademarks: 5 Granted Patents: 8

Pipistrel: Registered Trademarks: 5

3.Live and Kikin’: Kik Messenger App Wants to Raise $125M in an ICO

The developer of popular Kik Messenger plans to raise $125 million in an ICO, in what may be the biggest ICO for an established consumer company – having previously raised over $120 million in equity from traditional VCs. I kept hearing this news from time to time, as the company is managing a PR blitz to create awareness to optimize its public ICO success, so I decided to check once and for all how much of the total sum was already raised – and from whom.

I asked Zirra’s digital analyst Emmet this very simple question: “How much did Kik raise?” and got the attached output. At the end of the list, one could see, Kik raised $50 million from BlockChain Capital only a few days ago, as a part of its presale round to select accredited investors. That means that the company is still far from its $125 million goal. The remaining $75 million will be raised by issuing tokens for the general public with Kik’s unique token called Kin. Kin will create an ecosystem for digital services that will promote peripheral services on top of the messaging app, rewarding its app developers with a common currency. How do I know all that? Because I asked Emmet about recent news for Kik, with the common “Emmet, show me news for Kik.”

4.Via Transportation – Mercedes’ new carpooling startup

Via, a shuttle-based carpooling service, that can be found in NYC, Chicago and Washington D.C., has raised a strategic investment from German Daimler, owner of Mercedes Benz brand. Daimler will help to bring the growing startup to Europe, starting with London.

Via’s offering is a little different than that of other carpooling or ride-hailing apps such as Uber or Lyft. Via sells a seat in a black shuttle for $5 and also offers its software platform to other transportation providers. The company has grown significantly in recent years, broadening its service out of lower Manhattan into all of Manhattan, Brooklyn, JFK, Chicago’s city center, Washington D.C, Orange County and Houston.

But who is this company, that suddenly jumped out of anonymity to conquer the transportation world, and is now one of Mercedes Benz’s significant partners?

We asked Emmet for facts about Via.

Emmet created a summary of the most important facts about Via, and also shared with us its profiles within social networks and company databases such as Bloomberg. Here, Emmet decided that Via is a communication product primarily because it is an app that uses sophisticated software to match potential drivers with passengers.

However, we wanted to learn more about the company’s management and gave our analysis chat bot the following command.

We used the links in Emmet’s report about Via’s management and looked at the backgrounds of the founders. It appears that co-founders Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval are both graduates of the elite Talpiot program of the Israel Defense Forces. The program accepts the best math students from high schools, and also awards its graduates with degrees in the sciences. While reading about the Talpiot program, we learned it created a vast network of successful entrepreneurs such as the founders of Checkpoint, Passave, Stratoscale, Metacafe, Supersonic, Anobit, Adalom, Compugen, and Cannabics.  

**Try Emmet here**

5.23andMe raises $200 million – but is it hiring?

You always wanted to work for a successful biotechnology company and you’ve just heard that 23andMe is raised close to $200 million in a funding round led by Sequoia. You can easily check for open positions in any company by asking Emmet if a company is hiring or simply by asking him to show jobs for a company.

Emmet found 20 open positions in 23andMe. Here, we’ll show you the first five:


What Does Rounds’ Acquisition Tell Us About Houseparty

Canadian messaging company Kik has just added some strong tech capabilities with the acquisition of Rounds this morning, another group video chat app from Israel. The media reported on a deal within the range of $60-$80 million, most of it in Kik’s share, which is still a private company. Holding Kik’s shares is not such a bad idea, considering it is a unicorn that was priced at $1 billion by Tencent back in 2015. However, Zirra, a company that uses AI and machine learning to effectively analyze private companies, estimates Kik’s valuation at $350-$400 million only.

The Rounds deal is an acquihire: Rounds’ 35 employees will work for Kik now, and the company will turn into a product and engineering center, Kik’s first one outside Canada. Rounds app is closing down this February, Zirra has learned, and the users will not be transferred to Kik. That is a sign that Rounds wasn’t that successful in creating an engaged mass of users, although in the past it claimed 40 million of them.

This is a good deal for Kik, and maybe for Rounds’ employees and the founders too. But how good is it to Sequoia, the VC that had put $12 million in Rounds expecting it to be its next Whatsapp? Also, what does this deal tells us about Housparty, Sequoia’s next group-video-chat bonanza? Only a few months ago Sequoia injected $50 million into the company.

So, is the group video chat market is going up or down? It depends on where you look. Rounds, for instance, raised $12 million in the beginning of 2015 but didn’t grow its workforce since (It raised $20 million in total). LinkedIn shows that Rounds’ total employee count stayed around 40-45 people since January 2015. Regarding downloads, we can’t tell too much because the app was removed from both Google and Apple’s stores. When interviewed at 2015, CEO Dany Fishel didn’t disclose number of users but said that within few months the it soared 50 times. Now the company claims 40 million registered users, but that doesn’t mean we know how many daily or monthly users do we have.

In fact, most of the chances the app doesn’t engage with dozens of millions of users, as it is now closed to new users and will shut down next week. Houseparty, in comparison, enjoys a steady growth in its workforce as shown here:

Houseparty’s ranking in the application stores is fluctuated but is still growing. Look at the SimilarWeb ranking monitor: Housparty’s ranking was going up until November 2016. After that, it remained stable in the social networking category and suffered a slight decrease since then.

Apptopia, another mobile apps monitor, gives the same picture about Housparty’s ranking in the stores, but provides a little more pessimistic view when it comes to new downloads. Apptopia reports on an 11.3% decrease in downloads, and a decline of 6.4% in the number of the daily active users. Still, an increase of 20% in monthly active users is good news. This data tells that users keep group chats in a less frequent manner but still increasing the number of total group chats in a month.


The future will tell if Sequoia’s $50 million investment in Houseparty will be another Whatsapp, or just another Rounds.