VBT Newsletter

September 22nd

Good morning!

This Wednesday edition features:

  • VBT in the news

  • Apple is working on controversial new iPhone health features

  • Gen Z breaks into the VC world

  • Beware of the hype cycle in the world of NFTs

  • And Microsoft’s Surface event is today

It’s September 22, 2021.

1. VBT In The News

The best designs for social good in 2021 (Fast Company)

Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards 2021 has just been released and VBT’s work on the Dan Marino Foundation’s ViTA system was recognized as an honoree in the Social Good category!

The 10th anniversary of the awards recognizes people, teams, and companies that transform businesses, organizations, and society through design. Out of thousands of submissions, this year’s awards have a total of 599 honorees throughout 37 categories.

The 2021 honorees include products and services from some of the world’s most esteemed brands like Nike, Verizon, Microsoft, Google, and JPMorgan Chase. Everyone should be extremely proud of this major achievement, it is so well deserved.

Well done team 👏👏

2. Digital Health

Apple is working on iPhone features to help detect depression, cognitive decline (The Wall Street Journal)

Apple is working on technology to help diagnose depression and cognitive decline, aiming for tools that could expand the scope of its burgeoning health portfolio, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Using an array of sensor data that includes mobility, physical activity, sleep patterns, typing behavior, and more, researchers hope they can tease out digital signals associated with the target conditions so that algorithms can be created to detect them reliably. Apple hopes that would become the basis for unique features for its devices.

The efforts spring from research partnerships that Apple has announced with the University of California, Los Angeles, which is studying stress, anxiety, and depression, and pharmaceutical company Biogen, which is studying mild cognitive impairment.

The research projects are still at early stages, and may never lead to new device features. While prior academic studies have shown some evidence that people with certain mental health conditions use their digital devices differently than others, it remains to be seen if reliable algorithms can be created to detect the conditions.

3. Venture Capital

Gen Z breaks into VC (Axios)

Venture firms have accelerated hiring in line with record deal activity, often seeking younger investors who can spot trends that fly below the radar (or understanding) of older partners. Many of these new hires lack the experience that had become a virtual prerequisite for VC firms over the past decade, nor do they have banking, consulting, or MBA backgrounds.

Last Friday, VC firm Lerer Hippeau helped host a virtual summit for Gen Z VCs, featuring more than 3,000 attendees from over 70 countries. It was the first major event for Gen Z investors that was organized by Gen Z investors. ‘Gen Z’ describes those born between 1997 and 2012, and "Gen Z companies" are those that are either founded by members of that cohort or incorporate Gen Z habits and values.

"I wanted to know what peers were seeing, so I turned to Twitter to see if there were any Gen Z investors out there who were investing in Gen Z companies," said 24-year-old Meagan Loyst of Lerer Hippeau. "Those connections led to a Medium article that coined the term Gen Z VC and it blew up because so many other investors and founders were experiencing the same things I was. Then we made a Slack community that's now 10,000+ strong. Who knew there were so many of us?"

Gen Z is around 30% of the global population, which means venture firms will quickly work to adopt Gen Z sensibilities into their workflows. Because their alternative is to miss the next big thing.

4. NFTs

Would-be NFT millionaires throw a dart and usually hit a dud (Bloomberg)

Last week’s $24 million Sotheby’s auction of ape tokens, the $180 million Doge meme and other surreal superlatives from the summer of NFTs have all painted a pixelated picture of easy money. But the market is in fact a vast sprawl of varying investing outcomes, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. 

One of the most prevalent investing outcomes: Getting stuck with something nobody else wants. In the 90 days through Monday, roughly 1.9 million assets were sold on the largest marketplace OpenSea. But about three quarters never saw another transaction. For those that do find buyers, the market is dominated by high-profile, high-value works.

The most actively traded 3% of collections accounted for 97% of all dollar volume. The market’s more liquid corners have managed to ride the bullish wave, though even then the returns have been far from even. Among those with at least 100 transactions, 42% saw their average dollar price drop, while 39% doubled in value or more. 

Now with volumes slipping from peaks after Bitcoin plummeted last week, the question is whether this speculative boom will go the way of many others: Latecomers holding the bag as the self-reinforcing mania reverses. 

5. Events

What to expect from Microsoft’s big Surface event (Gizmodo)

Windows 11 launches on October 5, which means it’s also time for Microsoft to launch new Surface hardware to go with it.

We’re expecting to hear all about the device lineup at the company’s big hardware event on beginning today at 11 a.m. ET.

It’s an all-virtual one, so you can watch with this official link to see all the latest devices Microsoft has in store. Here’s what we expect to see:

  • Surface Duo 2

  • Surface Book 4

  • Surface Pro 8

  • Surface Pro X & Surface Go 3

  • Plenty of new accessories to go with them all

6. Funding, IPOs, M&As

As always, please feel free to share questions, feedback, or requests for future newsletters.