Startup Watch: Careem the unicorn, Nile farmers learning farming, and AI wars

This year is coming to a close but there is no ‘slowly’ in the complex world of entrepreneurship news, with people ever ready to give their two cents on which company is dying, what trends is growing and how you should be running your business/VC fund/incubator.

Here’s our wrap of what we’re reading on Unicorn Careem, the hot and steaming world of artificial intelligence, and the winners and losers of 2016. Brace yourself, readers.

Holidays came early to Careem this year. Only a few days after announcing they had raised a whopping $350 million, Careem CEO Mudassir Sheikha said in a TV interview with Bloomberg Markets Middle East that they may sell shares to the public in coming years. “It would probably be in 2018-2019 when it starts to become more feasible. I don’t think we would need more money before a listing," he said. Not needing any more money… words so many wish they too will one day utter. Meanwhile, Uber’s successes are taking a detour. The company is said to have lost $800 million this year.

Wamda of the week: Smile like you mean it or lose your job. It’s no secret artificial intelligence and machine learning is threatening a ton of jobs worldwide. Whether or not robots are here to take our jobs and leave us out in the cold is debatable, but one thing is for sure: as humans, we’ll need to adjust. According to a great interview we conducted with This is Productivity’s Claire Burge at Lebanon’s BDL conference, the future of work means constantly reinventing ourselves. It also means focusing our skills on those not likely to be replaced by an IBM Watson.

Nile farmers are being forced to re-learn farming. It can be tough to watch older generations who are used to a much simpler time, struggle to cope with the modernism of our daily lives. In Egypt, Nile farmers are being forced to cope with climate change by going back to the classroom. The farmers are learning tricks like disinfecting seeds before planting and how to level the soil to save waste and improve germination. The lesson here is that we are never too old to learn, and should never be too arrogant to adapt. If our jiddos can do it, so can you.

Global wars are terrible. The AI war is fascinating. This incredible New York Times article tells the story of Google Translate getting a massive makeover through advanced machine learning. Test it out yourselves and see if you notice the higher quality and more contextualized translation. While Google was the first of the internet giants to invest real time, talent and money into AI, others like Facebook and Apple followed suit. The vision of many of these companies is to become to consumers what Scarlett Johansson was in the Spike Jonze film ‘Her’ - a clairvoyant-like best friend (yes, just friend). [Sidenote: guess who else wants to invest in AI?]

The tech winners and losers of 2016: Facebook and Facebook. Facebook brought in almost $6 billion in profit in the first three quarters of the year. And rightfully so - this year Facebook Live took off, live audio broadcast was launched, and its News Feed made headlines. But with great power, comes great responsibility. The global social media platform was hit hard this year due to complaints over its algorithms favoring engagement rather than accuracy. What has been dubbed Facebook’s ‘fake news scandal’, is ongoing. Other 2016 winners: Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. Other losers: Samsung and people who drive for a living. Yea, it’s been rough for them.

Arabs, why do you shun silent alone-time? The holidays are great. Family time is wonderful. But in a region where community and family are the cornerstones of our cultures, all day, every day, this holiday season it may not be a bad idea to allow yourself some silence. Whether you are a CEO or employee dreaming of becoming one, there is a strong case for why hanging out solo, away from the pack, can re-energize you for the year ahead.

Investor and entrepreneur Jason Calacanis was a little bit of a grinch this week. The Uber investor went on an 18-tweet rant on what he called “fake founders” who seek investment without a minimal viable product or proof they can hire talent. Calacanis had some painfully honest advice for founders who can't code, can't sell, can't design, can't lead, can't hire and/or can't inspire and get drunk at tech conferences: “go back to your mom's basement, eat your hot pockets, get your graduate degree in dipsh*t studies & let the Jedi do Jedi work.” The truth hurts, but someone has got to say it like it is.

Feature image via Pixabay

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