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Big Revolution - Death to unicorns. Please.

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Welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution. Keen-eyed readers noticed that the bottom of yesterday's email
 
August 22 · Issue #178 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution. Keen-eyed readers noticed that the bottom of yesterday’s email edition claimed today would be the weekend… but no such luck.
Martin

Big things you need to know today
  • Is Iran the new Russia? Facebook and Twitter have identified and removed suspicious “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” of Iranian origin. Facebook has also found more evidence of covert Russian campaigns on its platform.
  • Accelerator Y Combinator has accepted all 15,000 startups that applied for its new online programme. Originally, it planned to accept just 3,000. But after initially accepting all applicants by mistake, and then facing criticism for withdrawing the accidental approvals, it did the only thing it could to avoid a hit to its reputation.
  • Google has launched a brand new look for its Fit health tracking service. Engadget has the details. Now can we have a decent Android smartwatch to go with it? One that is a serious rival to the Apple Watch? Also in line for a redesign: look out for a new-look Chrome next month.
The big thought
Credit: Boudewijn Huysmans on Unsplash
Death to unicorns. Please.
Work collaboration software company Slack is now worth $7.1bn. That’s following a $427m funding round. Just – please – don’t call it a ‘seven-times unicorn.’
In fact, let’s stop using 'unicorn’ at all – there are now too many $1bn+ companies for 'unicorn’ to make sense as a descriptor.
I remember back when the term first emerged into popular use, and top-tier venture capitalists talked about a tiny class of companies that were worth more than $1 billion.
That $1 billion figure became an artificial milestone – a point of pride among investors. If you don’t have at least one unicorn in your portfolio, what are you doing wrong? Can you ever look your LPs in the eye again?
That, in turn, led to funding rounds specifically engineered to give a company unicorn status. Entrepreneurs thought they deserved it, investors thought they needed it. But if you have to push and shove a startup into the billion+ club, you haven’t really got a unicorn, you’ve got a horse with horn glued on.
If billion-plus valuations are now perfectly normal, that’s fine - it’s just the way the market’s going. But please – unicorns are so named because they’re mythically rare. Continuing to describe companies this way is lazy and trite and ascribes far too much importance to an arbitrary valuation figure.
And if you think about it, Apple – with its unique trillion-dollar market cap – is the only true unicorn now. It’s going to be quite a long time before lots of tech companies sprout a horn like that.
One big read
A day in the life of a Waymo self-driving taxi A day in the life of a Waymo self-driving taxi
As Alphabet’s Waymo prepares to launch its self-driving taxi fleet in Arizona, The Verge takes a look at the logistical challenges of running such an operation.
One big tweet
Like a ghost from a previous era, Brizzly is kind-of back. Brizzly was a Twitter client on the web in about 2009, and its name brings back memories of a happier age for social media. Now its original creator has bought the domain again and created a silly ‘anti-social’ app. Hey, it’s a start.
Jason Shellen
so... I bought https://t.co/RknyHLZOWy back.
7:38 PM - 21 Aug 2018
That’s all for today...
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