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  • 🚀 Silicon President’s Report Card 🎓

🚀 Silicon President’s Report Card 🎓

PLUS: The Startup VC Inception 💰

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Hi Everyone. This is Take Off. We're like a hidden Easter egg in your favorite video game - surprising, delightful, and adding an extra layer of fun to your tech news consumption.

Here's what we're serving up today:

  • Silicon President’s Report Card 🎓

  • The Startup VC Inception 💰

  • Wednesday Wires 💰

  • Asteroids ☄️

Silicon President’s Report Card 🎓

Taiwan may have elected a new leader, but it’s safe to say that we all know who the real President of Taiwan is - Semiconductors. 

The kingpin of the silicon empire - TSMC reported earnings last week and it was a whole lotta good news. 

A Bit of a Chipper Winter

Coming out of the pandemic, the world sort of hit the pause button on their electronic shopping sprees. This led to a bit of a chip pile-up, leaving industry giants like TSMC in a bit of a pickle. 

Their revenue took a tumble, falling 2% in 2023, and net profits? Well, they weren’t doing cartwheels either, dropping 19%.

Sunny Days Ahead

However, TSMC raked in over *checks notes*.... $7.5 billion in profits last quarter and expects revenue growth to bounce back to at least 20% this year, with the boom in AI development spurring a surge in demand for computing power.

The company continues to ramp up its 3-nanometer chip technology as that accounted for 15% of its revenue, up from nothing a year ago. This chip could strengthen its competitive advantage in advanced technologies.

What’s Next? Chips Ahoy!

TSMC’s crystal ball shows revenue between $18-$18.8 billion in the first quarter.

Sure, it’s a step down from last quarter, but a leap forward compared to last year. And they expect the revenue to go only in one direction after the first quarter - UP.

Source: Tenor

The smartphone market has finally started to expand again. Global shipments in the fourth quarter of 2023 grew 8.5% YoY and AI’s growing hunger for chips is like finding a golden ticket for TSMC.

They’re the go-to-chipmaker for big guns like Nvidia, Apple and Qualcomm. 

Similar to how it enabled smartphones to take over the world, TSMC hopes to play a similar role in helping AI tech go mainstream and obviously, make LOTs of profits from it.

Innovative technologies are revolutionizing business as we know it, and they’re more accessible than ever. But to truly harness the transformative potential of AI, you need to know how and when to use it. And which pitfalls to avoid.

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The Startup VC Inception 💰

Have you ever heard of a Russian doll? You know, those cute little dolls that keep popping out smaller versions of themselves? 

Well, it seems like the VC world had its own ‘Russian Doll’ moment.

The Era of Free Money

Let’s roll back the clock to 2021. It was a time when startups were juicing on VC cash like a kid on a sugar rush. 

That resulted in those startups turning into mini VCs, investing in …. wait for it …. other startups.

Case in Point
Coinbase, before strutting on the stock market, went on a shopping spree, bagging stakes in not 1, not 2, but 23 companies in just the first quarter of 2021. 

The Era of Expensive Money

But with all good parties, the lights eventually come on. The end of the ZIRP era (Zero Interest Rate Policy, for those snoozing in economics class) made borrowing cash expensive.

With the downturn in venture activity, startups are now scrambling to raise money for themselves, let alone raise it to invest in other companies.

Case in Point
Bytedance, Stripe and Flexport were one of the most active startup VCs in 2021 but have slowed their investment activities significantly.

But why play the VC in the first place? Large startups have engaged in venture investing to stay on top of emerging market trends and at the same time, these deals were also bets on the startups themselves, the growth of their ecosystems (like crypto), and potential financial returns. 

But with unicorns facing pressure to maintain their lofty valuations, private companies and their venture arms are reevaluating their strategies.

☄️ Asteroids ☄️

Riot Games is laying off about 530 employees, which represents 11% of its workforce. The League of Legends maker is also sunsetting its five-year-old publishing group, Riot Forge. 🎮️ ❌ 

eBay to ax 1,000 jobs (9% of workforce) amid economic woes. CEO cites over-hiring and underperforming growth. 📉🧑‍🏭 

Kin.art debuts tool to shield artists' work from GenAI model training. Co-founder Flor Ronsmans De Vry champions ethical AI training, offering free tools on Kin.art platform to disrupt artwork data misuse. 👩‍🎨🔒

🤩 Stylebit - Measure, analyze & boost design system adoption

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🌐 Peerlist - The professional network for people in tech

📊 Stimch - Marketing automation at a fair price

💰 Wednesday Wires 💰

ElevenLabs secures $80M Series B, hitting $1B valuation. Focused on AI-powered synthetic voice tech, it plans to boost product dev, infrastructure, and AI research, ensuring ethical AI use. 🗣️🤖

Kittl, a Berlin-based startup, bags $36M in Series B for its web-based graphic design tool. Kittl integrates AI features and user-contributed templates. 🤖✨

Latitude, a French small launch startup, rockets up with a $30M Series B. Focusing on smaller, cheaper rockets, Latitude targets the middle market between giants like SpaceX and emerging competitors. 🚀🌍

The AI Buzz: Sign up for the newsletter for exclusive insights and updates on the latest AI news and developments.

The Aurorean: Discover the most significants developments happening in science and AI.

Agent.ai: Dots of thoughts where AI is headed.

Investor Snippets: InvestorSnippets is a daily newsletter with links and bite-sized news on markets, stocks, and ETFs that only take 3 minutes to read. Curated from dozens of investment news outlets to ensure you stay informed on the top trending stories.

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