So Many Self-Driving Car Startups, So Little Time
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Good morning. It’s a busy week, and I’d like to start your day with three stories told by the numbers that illustrate them.
50. That’s how many companies already are testing autonomous car technology in California, the largest car market in the U.S. and the state whose regulator granted permission Monday for truly driverless experimental cars. (Neither The New York Times nor the San Francisco Chronicle were able to put the brakes on the urge to use the “green light” metaphor in reporting the news.) Fifty individual companies going after the autonomous goal is an astounding number and is reminiscent of the early days of cars themselves, when oodles of long-forgotten manufacturers toiled away where only Ford, Chrysler, and a bunch of companies that united under General Motors grew to noteworthy scale. Common sense suggests nearly all of these startups will be gone in the relative blink of an eye.
37. That’s how many billions of dollars Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank invested in more than 40 companies last year, according to an informative Wall Street Journal review The just-the-facts article had an interesting grace note: Son’s SoftBank directors have often been at odds with him over his helter-skelter investment style. He likely reminds them that he, not they, invested early in Yahoo and Alibaba. Still, one can’t help but wonder if this all will end badly for SoftBank and its investing partners, which include Apple.
24,000. That’s the acreage of precious California coastal area The Nature Conservancy bought with a $165-million donation from Jack and Laura Dangermond, founders of the digital mapping company Esri in Southern California. I know this because a reader responded to my call yesterday for nominations for Fortune’s upcoming World’s Greatest Leaders list. In suggesting the Dangermonds, this reader correctly noted that privately held Esri has never appeared in Data Sheet, despite its multi-decade-long success. Duly noted—and minimally addressed. For now.