[CONFIDENTIEL] Entrepreneurs vs. VC, Amazon, Baidu, BercyLab …

by bold-lichterman

While Google has fun crushing humans at the game of Go with its AlphaGo program, Baidu is trying to reproduce human vocal abilities using artificial intelligence. Since 2013 and the opening of an artificial intelligence research laboratory in Silicon Valley, the Chinese giant has been working on speech synthesis. From this work was born the DeepVoice speech synthesis system, which is based on deep learning. Concretely, DeepVoice is a neural network that learns to speak by listening to the sound waves of the voice and comparing them to a written document of the same text.

The first version of Baidu’s AI system was only capable of producing short sentences which, at least on quick listening, were almost indistinguishable from a real person. However, it took several hours of data to master a single voice at a time. The second version, unveiled in May, was able to imitate a voice, with only half an hour of data, and could learn hundreds of different accents.

CONFIDENTIEL Entrepreneurs vs VC Amazon Baidu BercyLab

After these first experiments, Baidu has just unveiled the third and latest version of DeepVoice. This time it is capable of learning 2,500 different voices with half an hour of data for each. However, the voices synthesized by the Chinese giant do not really sound like human voices. Baidu intends to continue its efforts in terms of speech synthesis so that DeepVoice is able to master the nuances of several accents or people. Ultimately, Baidu’s engineering team says DeepVoice will be able to master 10,000 voices or more.

Baidu is not the only group interested in text-to-speech. Google too, with its DeepMind division, definitely still on the right track, is pursuing a similar objective with WaveNet. In addition, the latest version of the system from the Mountain View firm better controls accents and even produces lip smacking that makes voices more human. WaveNet can now generate voices for Google Assistant in English and Japanese.

This is the question posed by a contribution published on CB Insights. Intuition pushes to answer it in the affirmative, but investors Dan Mindus (Manager Partner at NextGen Venture Partners) and Maxwell Wessel (General Manager at SAP.iO) wanted to confront the assertion with the test of numbers, by in this case those of the Top 100 US VC of CB Insights.

As shown in the graph below, no correlation could be established between an entrepreneurial experience – by postulate, we mean here as entrepreneur the one who founded or confused a company – and the classification of VCs.

CONFIDENTIEL Entrepreneurs vs VC Amazon Baidu BercyLab
Source: CB Insight

Of the 100 venture capitalists ranked in 2017, 38 had founded or co-founded a company before becoming VC. Of the first 10, 6 do not have this experience, including the first two. The authors cite a few well-known names as examples, like John Doerr (# 84), former Intel, Mary Meeker (# 20), who worked on Wall Street, as well as Bill Gurley (# 1) and Kirsten Green ( # 12). Brian Singerman (# 5) is from Google.

The authors recognize that former entrepreneurs can make excellent mentors, but point out that they can also tend to impose their methods and experiences on the start-ups they support. Even if Marc Andreessen, creator of Netscape, or Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, ranked # 26 and # 22 respectively, contradict this analysis, the authors see no correlation, except that of a notoriety which ensures them a good deal flow. However, this notoriety is not commonly shared by all entrepreneurs.

Do Ex-Startup Founders Make The Best Venture Capitalists?

According to the research firm eMarketer, Amazon alone will have devoured 44% of the e-commerce market in the United States in 2017, up 6 points compared to last year. If we combine on-line and off-line retail, Amazon then represents 4% of general public distribution across the Atlantic.

Amazon’s sales are up 32%, to $ 197 billion in 2017, or 43.5% of the total e-commerce of its home market. This data includes the turnover achieved by third-party sellers on the Amazon marketplace. eBay, Apple and Walmart follow far behind.

CONFIDENTIEL Entrepreneurs vs VC Amazon Baidu BercyLab
Source: eMarketer / Recode

The e-commerce market in the United States is expected to grow by almost 16%, bringing it to $ 452.8 billion, in 2017.

Amazon will report its results for the third quarter on October 26, after markets close.

This Monday morning, Bruno Le Maire accompanied by his Secretary of State, Benjamin Griveaux, Mounir Mahjoubi and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne inaugurated the new Bercy project, the “BercyLab”. The morning allowed us to detail the ambition of this device.

This “coworking” space aims to support French SMEs in the face of international competition, by offering them the weapons to innovate, modernize and create jobs. For Bruno Le Maire, “this plan must accomplish a business transformation that will benefit all French people“. To do this, parliamentary pairs / business leaders have been formed. Here are the 6 pairs and the 6 themes on which they will work:

  • Creation, growth, transmission and rebound with Olivia Grégoire (LREM deputy from Paris) and Clémentine Gallet (president of Coriolis Composite)
  • Sharing the value and societal commitment of companies with Stanislas Guerini (LREM deputy from Paris) and Agnès Touraine (president of the French Institute of administrators)
  • Funding with Jean-Noël Barrot (Modem deputy of Yvelines) and Alice Zagury (president of The Family)
  • Digitization and innovation with Célia de Lavergne (LREM deputy for Drôme), Lionel Baud (CEO of Baud Industries) and Philippe Arraou (honorary president of the order of chartered accountants)
  • simplification with Sophie Errante (LREM deputy for Loire-Atlantique) and Sylvain Orebi (president of Orientis, Kusmi-Tea Love Organic)
  • Conquest of the international with Richard Yung (senator LREM of the French abroad) and Eric Kayser (artisan baker, founder of the house Kayser).

The pairs have an appointment on December 10 to make their conclusions. As a result of this work, a bill is planned for the spring.