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Movers and Shakers #3 | 15/01/2020

Pete N.
Pete N.
Jan 15, 2020 · 5 min read

Disruptors and disrupted - what are they up to? Movers and Shakers covers my opinion on market trends, news and the future.

In this issue:
1. Cell-Based Meat - not just for vegans.
2. Once a bright unicorn, now a ride to nowhere

And to top it all off, I have a great article recommendation for you.

Cell-Based Meat - Not just for vegans

We have plant-based alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Both companies have been making the news quite often and there’s a ton of buzz around them…but their products are not that exciting for me, they are just alternatives to meat, not real meat. We also haven’t had conclusive research into the effects of these highly-processed products on our health, although I hope they at least nailed the taste. As consumers get more cautious about the food they put in their mouths, I think highly processed fake meat won’t cut it. We need something better.

What we actually need is REAL meat that is sustainable, ethical, healthy and can be produced at a scale large enough to support the growing human population. Slaughter, abuse, hormones, antibiotics, CO2 emissions - we have the great opportunity to eliminate (or drastically reduce) all of them from the food industry within the next few decades. And we have the chance to create the tastiest meat ever made. Are you salivating already? I am.

So, who is trying to tackle this issue and where are they in their development?

  1. New Age Meats - Led by Brian Spears, this exciting company just closed its seed round with $2.7 million in funding. Their first product is lab-grown pork and they have already demonstrated their sausage at tastings. Ah, I’d love to try it.
  2. Blue Nalu - This company has a slight twist on the cell-based industry. Instead of going towards beef or pork, they “dived” into seafood. Blue Nalu finished off 2019 very strong, doing a successful demo of a muscle prototype of Yellowtail Amberjack. They plan to have a commercially viable product within 2 years.
  3. Meatable - They’ve received over $15 million in funding and use an advanced technology called OPTi-OX to reprogram stem cells. I won’t go into the details but this definitely sets them apart from the others. However, they are yet to release a prototype. Come on Meatable, send me some samples.

The cell-based industry is just getting started and I am very optimistic about the long-term potential here. If you have different opinions on it, please share in the comments below, I’d love to discuss.

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Once a bright unicorn, now a ride to nowhere

Our dearest Uber.

A company that has penetrated culture, changed the way we view mobility and commutes…But if I were investing today, I would definitely avoid this stock.

Before their IPO at the beginning of 2019, Uber hype was off the charts. Bulls were boasting about the ride-hailing startup as the next Amazon, the biggest IPO in years and a revolutionary growth story.

Uber, however, doesn’t have anything in common with Amazon. In fact, the ride-hailing company lost more in the nine months leading up to it’s IPO than Amazon did in its first seven years. Yes, Amazon also sacrificed short-term profits to grow its business but they created and established dominance in cloud computing and e-commerce, gaining an almost trillion-dollar market cap in the process. Amazon Web Services (AWS) owns close to 50% of the global cloud infrastructure market. Its closest rival is Microsoft with approximately 20%. That’s just pure domination.

Here’s what Uber has done while burning mountains of cash:

  1. Exited Russia after losing to Yandex.Taxi
  2. Exited China after losing the war with DiDi
  3. Exited Southeast Asia after losing to Grab
  4. Struggled to outcompete Lyft in their home market
  5. Has been banned in London, Copenhagen, Hungary. Other jurisdictions across the US (California) and EU (Germany) are putting pressure on Uber to conform to regulations similar to those that taxi companies comply with.

Revenue growth is slowing, competition remains fierce and they have no moats - customers are just looking for the cheapest ride possible from A to B. There is no brand loyalty here and that is why Uber is stuck in a pricing war, put under pressure by both customers and drivers. Consumers are fickle and drivers expect better pay. There is no easy escape here for Uber.

In 2017, Travis Kalanick, the founder and CEO resigned following publicized issues around the company’s culture. I think that was the biggest mistake the Uber shareholders and board of directors have made. Letting him go so easily was a tipping point for the company and things are not looking good now. Travis was the person behind the wheel, the one with the vision.

What did Travis do just recently? Oh yes, he just sold ALL his shares and quit the board. Not a promising sign, eh?

And finally, there is one more risk people tend to ignore when discussing Uber. Future losses due to autonomous fleets and specifically, Tesla or Waymo. Autonomy will disrupt the entire ride-hailing business and unless Uber signs a deal with either of the two market leaders, they will be left behind.

Unless they think boldly and make radical changes, I feel like Uber is not going to make it. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below!

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Recommended reading: “The Year in Biology”

The past. The future.

This article by John Rennie is a brilliant recap of everything that’s happened in the field of biology over the last year. Not only is it full of captivating facts and stories, but the graphics are just gorgeous. If you ever liked biology, this is for you!

Read “The Year in Biology” here.

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Olena Shmahalo for Quanta Magazine

That’s it for the third issue of Movers and Shakers!

Thank you for the time and attention ❤

Feel free to add me on social media:
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