🔮 Quantum computing; NFTs; Rethinking venture capital; battery chargers & chicken statues ++ #348
Hi, I’m Azeem Azhar. I convene Exponential View to help us understand how our societies and political economy will change under the force of rapidly accelerating technologies.
This week on the podcast
Ian Hogarth and Nathan Benaich are well-known for their annual State of AI report, in which they take stock of the technology, industry and policy of this fast-changing general purpose technology. In the latest podcast conversation, we discuss the most recent breakthroughs in AI, and we dig into...
🏢 What Salesforce’s biology research says about the AI industry [14.59]
🤖 How the AI/ML engineer shortage could be solved by… machines [24.01]
⚔️ Why tech ‘choke points’ could become political battlegrounds [39.23]
Today's edition of Exponential View is supported by our knowledge partner, McKinsey & Company.
Valuing IoT. Do you wear a fitness tracker or use a smart thermostat? Then you’re already part of the Internet of Things (IoT), where the digital and physical worlds converge. This large, growing market could enable $5.5 trillion to $12.6 trillion in value globally by 2030. But companies must achieve scale to capture it. Check out a new report to see how.
Dept of near future
The future of quantum computing
💻 The power and promise of quantum computing is apparent, but it’s been difficult to parse when the technology will have mainstream applications. Thanks to some rather significant developments, we now have more certainty around when quantum computing becomes useful. IBM announced this month that it had created the largest ever superconducting quantum computer. The 127-physical-qubit quantum computer is over double the size of similar machines recently unveiled by Google and the University of Science and Technology of China. The limit of quantum supremacy—the point at which quantum computers can solve problems no classical computer can—is normally thought of as 150 qubits. However, that means 150 coherent, noise-free logical qubits. Because physical qubits are noisy, most quantum computers will need about 1,000 times more physical qubits than logical ones. (In the case of the IBM milestone, this suggests we are about 0.1% of the way there.)
Thanks to these technological advances and clarity on timelines from providers laying out clear roadmaps and milestones, we have a better idea of when this technology will become practically useful.
The consequence of this knowledge is a fast-increasing investment. More than two-thirds of equity investments in quantum computing have been made since 2018. Moreover, the current progress of leading hardware technologies shows that the most progress is taking place with superconductors (compared with ion traps, photonics, quantum dots, and cold atoms). This suggests that progress is not likely going to be linear but will instead leapfrog. Promising developments ahead! 🎧 For a deep dive on quantum computing, listen back to my discussion with Chris Monroe and Peter Chapman of IonQ, the first company focused on quantum computing to go public; and my conversation with Jeremy O'Brien, CEO of PsiQuantum.
[See also: Australia outlines 63 technology areas that it won’t work on with China because they are critical to national security.]
From the fringe to the mainstream
🖼 NFTs are still having a moment, and the coverage feels strangely familiar. It feels a lot like the early days of the Bitcoin boom. Reuters just published a fascinating profile of Vignesh Sundaresan, otherwise known as MetaKovan. An early investor in NFTs, he has seen his fortune explode. Elsewhere, members of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, one of the hottest NFT projects, met up in real life for a party in New York. This is eerily reminiscent of early Bitcoin events. Bitcoin started small with true believers and visionaries. Then it went mainstream. That’s what appears to be happening with NFTs. Before you know it, there will be NFT departments in the leading investment banks worldwide.
A new approach to venture capital
💸 The VC market is so hot right now that some would say it’s overheated. Amidst the push for new deals and finding the next unicorn, one firm stands out for a novel and unique approach. Tiger Global has taken the sector by storm, raising $8.8bn in the first close of its biggest fund this year. What’s remarkable about Tiger Global, as outlined in this excellent deep dive, is its distinctive strategy for deal-making.
Unlike other VC firms, Tiger focuses on investing in deals that pass an 18% hurdle rate and will keep deploying capital so long as it exceeds that hurdle rate. Most firms will only deploy capital for moon shots. This means Tiger deploys capital faster and, potentially, can return it more quickly.
The other difference, which might sound like good business advice for those outside venture capital, is that Tiger shows up to meetings exceptionally well-prepared and does their homework. Instead of racing to meet with as many founders as possible in one day, Tiger arrived with a detailed understanding of the opportunity and could make decisions in a concise amount of time. (The tweetstorm below shows some instructive examples of how Tiger has approached founders.)
Is this a fundamental sea change to venture capital? I’m not sure. It is more reminiscent of the disruption brought by Total Football, the glorious style of play pioneered by Ajax in the 1970s, which upended the 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 of positional soccer. Total football was beautiful--and all-powerful--but hard to execute well. Few sides did it again until Barcelona emerged with Tika-Taka in the 2000s.
Like Ajax and Barcelona, Tiger may be hard to clone but it might inspire new approaches in this rapidly growing industry. And that’s a good thing. [See also: Fred Wilson cautions against the $100m seed round - both for investors and founders. Breakthrough science and the future of venture capital. And venture financing in Europe finally exceeds agricultural subsidies.]
🔋Dept of decarbonisation
CO2 level 414.55 ppm | 3,168 days until we reach the 450ppm threshold.
The latest measurement of atmospheric CO2 (as of November 17, 2021): 414.55 ppm; October 2020: 411.38 ppm; 25 years ago: 360 ppm; 250 years ago, est: 250 ppm.
🙏We should be more hopeful about our prospects for fighting climate change than we are. At least, that's the argument of Myles Allen, a professor of geosystem science at Oxford. Based on decades of experience attending climate summits, Allen believes that we are making far better progress on climate, especially limiting global warming, than anyone would have thought in the 2000s. The very idea of a country achieving net-zero would have been radical a decade ago. It is indeed encouraging that the conversation has changed, but that shouldn’t lull us into a sense of complacency. Things have changed because we are aware of and frightened by the challenge ahead of us. The needle is slowly moving, technological progress is helping the cause, but there is still so much work. A couple of years ago, our member Diana Fox Carney hosted a briefing with Professor Allen in which they discussed the science of modeling climate change.
Short morsels to appear smart while charging your devices
🔌 Creating the perfect charger is far more complex than one might think. This interview with the CEO of Anker goes deep into the complicated business of chargers.
🔋 The lighting port and its discontents. A French programmer installed a USB-C port on an iPhone (the universe didn’t end!). See also, right to repair advocates scored a significant victory this week as Apple announced new self-service guidelines and costs.
🇳🇱 A fascinating look at the Dutch machine making computer chips denser and keeping Moore’s Law alive.
🚙 Amidst the global chip shortage, Ford and GM are looking to build chipsets. What could go wrong?
🇸🇬 Singapore has invested heavily in its knowledge economy and technology prowess. One outcome is the creation of a mighty surveillance state.
🗣 The popularity of global series on streaming platforms (Squid Game on Netflix being the latest hit) is causing a major shortage of skilled translators. See also, as hundreds of millions steamed Squid Game, Netflix didn’t buckle. What is Netflix doing right?
💰 From carbon emissions to your taxes, what can’t Stripe do?
This doesn’t happen every day. My book Exponential (or The Exponential Age in the US & Canada) was selected as one of the best books of the year by the Financial Times. The esteemed newspaper said, “this book is hard to beat.”
Who am I to argue? Please do pick up a copy—for those of you in the United Kingdom, you can grab it for 99p on the Kindle for next week or so.
Hasta la vista, baby!
What you’re up to – notes from EV readers
Annalee Bloomfield'a latest venture, Sustain.Life, a SaaS platform helping companies across industries measure and reduce their environmental impact just launched its public beta. Congrats!
Laure Claire Reillier is hosting a conference on the future of Digital Platforms with top academics, practitioners and policymakers. Exponential readers are invited to register for free.
Sam Barcroft is launching a forum for creative entrepreneurs interested in Web3.0 and the Metaverse called Content 3.0.
Looking back on COP26, Matt Jones wrote a blog about how Tap on Phone solutions can help reduce E-Waste.
Adam Oskwarek is working on a mini-campaign for Black Friday. It’s like an Alternative Climate Positive Black Friday, and it will run from the end of this week until Nov 30th.
Hospify, a data-compliant healthcare communications platform co-founded and headed by James Flint, won the Novartis-GEM Melanoma Challenge last week. Congrats!
Eliot Peper interviewed author and founder Stewart Brand about writing The Maintenance Race.
Gianni Giacomelli wrote an article about how to design and harness the collective intelligence of an organisation.
To share your projects and updates, fill out your details here. Because of space constraints, we prioritise updates from paying members and startups I have invested in. (You can become the former by subscribing, if you have not already, and the latter by getting an intro to me via a trusted contact.)
Exponential Jobs - Featured roles for our community
Every week, we curate jobs for our community, by our community. Our members are hiring in climate tech, blockchain, space tech, healthcare, future of work, among other areas. Here are the highlights:
Request, statup on a mission to built a completely decentralized and open network for transaction requests, is looking for a Blockchain Product Manager.
Our Future Health, UK's largest health research programme, is looking for a Head of Data Platforms.
AI and climate tech startup Carbon Re, dedicated to removing Gigatons of CO2eq from humanity’s emissions each year, is hiring a Senior Software Engineer (Full Stack).
Klang Games, a Berlin-based game studio whose mission is to create deep and meaningful online experiences that bring people together, is looking for an Engineering Manager.
If you’re looking for a new job opportunity, subscribe to the board. Set your preferences based on your location, skill level, and expertise, and we’ll let you know when there’s the right job for you.
How happy are you with today's wondermissive?