Sunday, August 9, 2015

Venture Capital at a 15 Year High, Bay Area Over 50% of Total Raised

The Q2 PWC Moneytree data is out, and at $17.5 billion raised, it was the biggest quarter for VC raised since Q4 2000.  But some metro areas still haven't seen a comeback in venture activity.   Metro DC companies raised over $1 billion in 2000's final quarter, but just one fifth of that this past quarter. The DC area had telecom back then, which receives just about nothing now, as well as AOL, which recently sold for a meager $4 billion, just 1/3rd the value of current day Bay Area startups like Pinterest and Dropbox.

The Bay Area domination grew, accounting for 52% raised, four times as much as #2 New York, and nearly an all-time record in total raised for that region.   In 2000, it picked up about 40% of venture-funds raised.  The top five metros, which included Boston, LA, and Seattle, accounted for 85% of all funding raised.  

The Northwest, which is virtually all Seattle companies, came in at just 3%.   This is out of proportion with that area's share of public companies, which include Microsoft, Amazon, Tableau, Zillow, F5 Networks, and Expedia.   Perhaps Seattle companies are somehow more successful at growing and staying independent?  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

San Francisco's Getting Wetter?

One of the big challenges with global warming is dealing with the large variances in annual data, which have always been an issue with weather forecasting.  But along with global warming, most U.S. cities are also getting wetter.   And in spite of all the drought news of recent years, San Francisco is no exception.

Since 1945, average rainfall in San Francisco has increased 0.4 inches per decade according to NOAA.   But 2013 was exceptionally dry, with just 3.3 inches, and 2015's only seen 3 inches so far (though Dec 2014 had over 11 inches).

Much of the drought is also due to the low snowpack in the Sierras.  But here again, the data shows no long term trend towards less snow in that mountain range, just high seasonal variations.     So there's very little evidence the current drought has anything to do with global warming.

Uber Producing 3.6-5.6% Reduction in Drunk Driving Deaths

A new study out of Temple University claims Uber is reducing drunk driving deaths by precisely 3.6 to 5.6%.    Number seems a little precise, but who knows, maybe the author has Asperger's. Either way, Uber is a great alternative not just to driving, but public transportation, when drunk, especially when it's 1am and the next train isn't coming for 20 minutes.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Los Angeles Has Warmed 3 Degrees Over the Last Century, But Baton Rouge Has Gotten Cooler

Climate data offers a lot of interesting details that go well beyond the tired believe it/don't believe it headlines in the press.    The EPA recently published a chart showing average temperature growth across the U.S. since 1900.  Interestingly, many of the areas warming up the most are colder and drier, while the hot, humid Gulf Coast hasn't warmed at all, and has even gotten cooler in some spots.

Los Angeles has seen average temperatures rise three degrees over this time period according to the EPA.  But annual deviations often exceed this level, which means it's possible to not to sense global warming is occurring at all.  For example, the average temperature in LA was 64 degrees in 2012, same as it was in 1930.   But it shot up to 68 degrees in 2014.   Though this was less than the all-time peak of 69 degrees reached twice over thirty years ago, but hasn't been reached since. However, from 1880 to 1914, LA only averaged 64 degrees or higher once.  While from 1980 to 2014, it never averaged less than 64 degrees.

With long-term average annual increases not much larger than the standard deviation in annual temperature, it's very easy to think there is no warming.  Moreover, it makes dire predictions less credible, because while extremes could occur, there will also be individual years a century from now that are no warmer than today, even in a climate that's warmed by a few degrees.

In addition to the deviations among years, deviations among places are also important to acknowledge.  While it's an anomaly, Alabama has actually gotten cooler over the last 100 years.   The humid Southeast has been far less impacted by increased CO2 than the arid Mountain West.   While there is no doubt humans are on average warming the planet, climate science would be far more credible if it focused more on the variances in today's impacts, and less on questionable predictions.