I just took apart a Megvii camera — I think I know who might.

Hardware rules.

I love hardware. Especially heatsinks. Not really sure why — they’re kind of boring, usually necessarily ugly (all those awful fins!) — but after designing and building one for a consumer product I tell you what, they’re tricky buggers!

I never forget a good, big heatsink.

And thats why, when I saw the news this morning that the US government has banned US companies from selling product or technology to a gaggle of Chinese AI companies — Hikvision, Sensetime, Megvii, more — visions of heatsinks surprisingly worked through the noise that is my stressed out, overcaffeinated brain.

Wait a minute…I have a Megvii camera in my garage! And it has an awesome heatsink!

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With enough distance, any surface appears infinitely uniform.

The ocean? From our seats on the plane it’s just a bunch of blue. The Milky Way? Pfft — not even a grain of sand in the great big multiverse.

Thinking this way can be a bit terrifying — I stopped reading about the Big Bang after losing too much sleep staring at the ceiling, questioning the cosmic meaning of awkward BART rides — but it is an almost essential mindset for machine learning founders looking to build value.

Prediction and automation services working with surface level data result in undifferentiated offerings and step-wise value creation. More importantly, they miss out of the exciting things that come when you dive in, get dirty, and keep going deeper than ever before. …

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Chances are, unless you’re already in the semiconductor industry, you probably haven’t heard of the term “RISC-V” or know what the letters stand for. Chances are, if you’re like me and blindly believe in the power of phonetics, you might not even know how to pronounce RISC-V.

When I first met with Professor Krste Asanovic, the head of RISC-V.org, on Berkeley’s glorious grounds, I kicked off by saying something highly eloquent. Something like, “So, Mr. Scientist. Tell me what you know about this ‘risk vee’ stuff.”

“Uhh, it’s pronounced ‘five.’” Eloquence everywhere.

“What’s that? Five what?”

“Risk five. RISC-V.”

I didn’t talk much thereafter, yet Professor Asanovic was still kind enough to hold my hand and walk me through an ocean of questions. …

Insights from our first Assessing China program in industrial IoT, and how startups can accelerate business development in China.

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The Startups and Comet visit SunOn Industrial Group in Guangdong

Comet’s Assessing China program for Industry 4.0 startups had a simple goal — bring the top AI/robotics startups in a specific industry to China to meet with leading companies and de-risk go-to-market partnerships for both sides.

That’s bold in the best of times, and downright maniacal in today’s political climate (thank goodness they didn’t slap a tariff on airplane pillows).

But innovation is a universal language — the push and search for the better, the new, is a business reality around the world — and the timing is now for data-driven automation of massive industrial operations. …

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Our first Accessing China program: Intelligent Machines & Manufacturing

China is a bit of a black box when it comes to entering as a foreign business, and as a founder and investor I’ve seen a couple companies — specifically startups — get messed with.

In China, no one messes with Legend.

It’s only logical to choose manufacturing as our first industry-focused Assessing China program. China is well known as the global center for large-scale manufacturing, and its growing investment and adoption of IoT and AI technologies positions China not as testing ground but early adopter of (I suppose we’re calling) Industry 4.0.

First, a little about Legend.

Legend Holdings is one of China’s largest and most respected conglomerates. Famous for owning the controlling stake in Lenovo, Legend is an industrial leader in China owning 40+ companies in several industries including agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services. …

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Artificial intelligence — as a technology, not a concept — is entering its design phase.

In a past life, I had the opportunity to learn an important lesson about design thinking when I was founder of Stower Energy. Equity makes magic sometimes, and in the instance of Martin Schnitzer it got me several months working elbow to elbow with him in a small studio in the Excelsior district of San Francisco for our startup. …

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Akin’s founders, Liesl and Travis, who are on a mission to develop personal, relatable AI.

Today’s automation tools are boring.

It doesn’t matter what the application is — playing Go, picking fruit, stacking boxes, annotating dogs on a highway — the state of the art in artificial intelligence is a bit dull and Siri’s jokes suck.

As it should be! It’s taken us a long time and technological innovation to get to deep neural nets that tell us what exactly we’re holding in our hand and a machine to respond as best as it can to our clumsy, wayward Q&A’s:

“Hey Siri, play me some EDM.”

“You got it!”

“Google — what’s the weather?”

“In San Francisco it is 68 degrees and foggy. Again. Like yesterday. Like…

The battle between temptation and self-regulation begins.

Dear Founders,

A couple weeks back I was talking about YC, demo days, and how it made us think through our beliefs at Comet Labs. I also brought up the concept of SoftBank’s Vision Fund as a Black Hole. It got my mind whizzing a bit and going off on too many tangents, all hypothetical with little basis on quantum anything. At the end of the day, the Vision Fund is having an impact on early-stage investing and we need to understand it.

Now, I’ve re-written this damn thing three times and ultimately landed here as a simple letter to you, the founders of early stage startups, and perhaps my future self when/if I scamper back into that odd existence of the startup damned. …

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Stefan Groschupf and the SalesHero team make difficult things look easy.

Exhibit A — Lots of people in San Francisco ride their bikes to work every day (myself included - watch yourself, MUNI drivers). Ben, the head of product at SalesHero, rides his bike to the office too. From Sausalito. Every day. No ferry.

Exhibit B — Stefan, SalesHero’s founder, was one of the original architects of Hadoop, and grew his previous startup, Datameer, from a concept into a data analytics powerhouse, raising over $100M in venture capital. Easy, no?

Whilst toiling on Datameer, Stefan stumbled on the serious need to improve his sales team’s workflow and efficiency for his company to survive. Selling new things is already tough. But for Datameer, selling visualizations is an art form. It was difficult on at the best of times, and a mean brick wall at others. …

I like Y Combinator, a lot. In fact, I’m kind of jealous of Y Combinator. They have an amazing team, breathtaking network, $700M — $1B+ fund (depending on who you talk to), and the top founders from infinity and beyond banging down their doors to become part of that world.

I’ve also gotten to know some YC founders — excellent humans all. I’m even on record (well, at least a mental record) of talking my way into an epic fail with Justin Kan, a partner at YC. It’s a long story that he probably doesn’t remember, goes something like this:

  • April 2014 — Andy is in Orange Telecom’s incubator, Orange Fab, and Justin comes to talk to the founders. …


Andrew Byrnes

Investor at Comet Labs. Human.

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