Top Silicon Valley Startups to watch out for in 2018

Silicon Valley has been at the pinnacle of global entrepreneurship since Hewlett and Packard days. It is also home to some of the startup-turned-giant corporations such as Apple, Google, and Facebook.

As we ring in the New Year, let’s look at some of the hottest startups from Silicon Valley to watch for in 2018.

Legal Service Industry

The Atrium LTS (Legal Technology Service) team. Photo Credit: TechCrunch
The Atrium LTS (Legal Technology Service) team. Photo Credit: TechCrunch

 

What is it?

Atrium LTS is founded by a team of legal professionals and Justin Kan, the Justin.tv founder and Y-Combinator alum. It is a technology company trying to disrupt the legal service industry.

“If you think about corporate legal work that’s done today, some part of it is art and then some of it is repeatable processes,” said Kan. These routine manual processes and tasks can be replaced with technologies to increase efficiency and provide a better overall customer experience.

Why is it hot?

Justin Kan has founded multiple successful startups, most notably Twitch, which was acquired by Amazon for almost US$1 billion.

At Atrium LTS, nearly 100 institutional and angel investors have participated in the series A financing of US$10.5 million. The round was led by General Catalyst, but also includes other firms such as 500 Startups, Binary Capital, Greylock and NEA.

It is unclear what technology Atrium LTS will deploy yet, however, the goal is to bring the customer experience and expectations to a whole new level.

Founded:        2017 by Justin Kan, Bebe Chueh, Chris Smoak and Angie Rakow

Funding:         US$10.5 million

 

 Automotive Industry

Zoox autonomy prototype car. Photo Credit: Bloomberg
Zoox autonomy prototype car. Photo Credit: Bloomberg

What is it?

Zoox Inc. is not just another autonomous vehicle company. The secretive startup has raised US$290 million since 2014 to rethink and redesign autonomous vehicles into mobility-as-a-service industry.  This means there are no steering wheels and the seats face each other so that it will cater for a meeting or conversation while on the trip, providing a whole new user experience.



Why is it hot?

Last year, Zoox Inc. hired 17 Apple engineers who are specialized in traditional and autonomous vehicle braking and suspension systems, and recently showed off its on-road prototype of the autonomous car to Bloomberg.

“At this point, we don’t consider self-driving or Zoox to be a moonshot. Now it comes down to execution,” says Kentley-Klay, co-founder of Zoox.

It seems like Zoox will stick to its plan of introducing the service by 2020.

Founded:    2014 by Jesse Levinson and Tim Kentley-Klay

Funding:     US$290 million

 

Semiconductor Industry

Barefoot Network Tofino Chip. Photo Credit: WIRED
Barefoot Network Tofino Chip. Photo Credit: WIRED

 

What is it?

Stanford professor, Nick McKeown, co-founded a startup called “Nicira,” which is focused on “software-defined network” and network virtualization. It was sold to VMware for $1 billion in 2012.

McKeown then co-founded Barefoot Networks with Martin Izzard to continue revolutionizing the networking technology. They introduced the world’s first, fastest (at 6.5 Terabits/second) and most programmable network switch – Tofino in 2016. The chip allows the user to program a network behavior change, instead of having to invest in any massive hardware overhaul.

 

Why is it hot?

“In all other parts of the data center, we have moved to programmability. Tofino enables this move for networking. It empowers network owners and their infrastructure partners to design, optimize, and innovate to their specific requirements,” said McKeown.

Tofino deployments will improve the network performance at major software and web companies such as Google, Facebook, Baidu, and Alibaba. It will also improve efficiency for telecommunication giants in each country.

In late 2017, Baidu and Tencent announced that they have begun deploying Tofino into their networks.

Founded:    2013 by Martin Izzard and Nick McKeown

Funding:     US$150 million

Internet of Things

Particle IOT Solutions Photo Credit: Particle.io
Particle IOT Solutions Photo Credit: Particle.io

 

What is it?

 Particle provides a simple and easy-to-implement end to end solution for the entire IOT setup. They offer everything from hardware (WiFi, cellular modules, and SIM cards) to SDKs (Software Development Kits) and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). All of the devices are then connected to their “IoT Cloud.”

 

Why is it hot?

“While the media’s IoT focus has been primarily on consumer electronics, wearables, and ‘smart home’, we’ve learned from our customers that the future of IoT is within the enterprise market,” said Supalla, CEO of Particle.

Particle has differentiated themselves from the technology giants such as Apple, Google, and Amazon to focus on enterprises, which could result in a much higher adoption rate.

They have also raised $20 million in Series B funding from Qualcomm Ventures in 2017.

Founded:    2011 by Stephanie Rich, Zach Supalla and Zachary Crockett

Funding:     US$35 million

 

Financial Services Industry

Ripple Photo Credit: Forbes
Ripple Photo Credit: Forbes

 

What is it?

 Unlike Bitcoin, Ripple is not a payment network, instead, it is created to be a global settlement network based on Blockchain technologies. It aims to be the platform that allows anyone to transfer money from any fiat currency to another efficiently.  This differentiating factor has given it many advantages over the other cryptocurrencies today.

Ripple transactions are much faster and cheaper than the traditional SWIFT transfer of Western Union, or even Bitcoin due to trading activities.  All the Ripple coins that are to be used for transactions are already created, hence it does not require mining.  The main advantage is that Ripple is already working with many banks around the world, making it easier to trade and transact.

 

Why is it hot?

In late December 2017, Ripple overtook Ethereum to become the 2nd largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, behind Bitcoin.

In 2018, it has made several moves to strengthen their position in the global settlement market by announcing a tie-up deal with the global payment network, MoneyGram. It has also recently set up an office in Singapore, looking to work with the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) to implement blockchain technologies for cross-border payments.

We believe that Ripple could become one of the important blockchain applications in making financial markets more efficient.

Founded:        2012 by Arthur Britto and Chris Larsen

Funding:         US$93.6 million



Social Gaming Industry

 

Social gaming platform, Roblox Photo Credit: Roblox
Social gaming platform, Roblox Photo Credit: Roblox

 

What is it?

Roblox is currently the world’s largest interactive online platform that works on multiple devices, such as desktop, mobile, and even Xbox One. It allows users to sign up and create an avatar to play the games. Users can also design their virtual world for creating their own games for others to play. Their primary targets are kids and teenagers. It has approximately 48 million active monthly users and 1.9 million developers.

In 2013, Roblox allowed users to cash out their game’s virtual currency. It was reported some of the top developers were earning US$50,000 per month from their games.

 

Why is it hot?

“We have a vision of a platform created base on imagination, the ultimate platform for gamers … to create, build and imagine together,” said Baszucki, CEO of Roblox.

Roblox has successfully combined gaming, social networking and user-generated economy onto a single platform. Their user adaptation has grown quickly from 7 million active users per month in 2012 to 48 million in 2017.

In 2017, they raised US$92 million in a new funding round led by Meritech Capital Partners and Index Ventures to focus on hiring and growing their infrastructure.

Founded:        2006 by David Baszucki

Funding:         US$99.2 million

 

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About Don Ong 7 Articles
Don Ong, an innovation advocate and active angel investor in art, technology startups and restaurants in both Silicon Valley and Asia. He is the head of innovation at a Japanese MNC, advisor and mentor to several financial institutions and startups. He is also an avid fan of cool technologies, astrophysics, contemporary and literary arts. His favorite phrases are “never say never”, and “coffee is your best friend.”

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