Companies are adjusting their business strategies as technology ushers in a new era of investment trends. Business database Crunchbase, which serves firms ranging in size from small startups to Fortune 500 companies, is keeping a close eye on where the money is being allocated.
Startups attracted big funding in 2016. Venture investment rose to its highest level in five years, with fintech and security topping the chart for sector funding rounds last year. This year, according to Crunchbase CEO Jager McConnell, it’s all about artificial intelligence and machine learning. While the research firm identified it as a growth sector in 2016, McConnell expects increased investment in the industry this year.
“There’s a lot going on in the automation space and machine learning, so we’re going to see a continued flow of deals focused on those areas as people try to figure out what technology [is needed] to drive our cars and revolutionize the trucking business,” McConnell told Yahoo Finance’s Seana Smith in the video above. “It’s still very much an emerging technology. We still have to figure out the ethical decisions that computers will have to make on their own without human interaction … There’s a ton of technology that’s involved, and those companies are being funded now so they can deliver this future that we’ve been promised.”
In its 2016 Global Innovation Investment Report, Crunchbase said a high percentage of funding poured into early-stage AI companies, leaving room for larger follow-up rounds. So far this year, there have been some lucrative acquisitions in the space. Intel (INTC) made a huge bet on autonomous cars in March, reaching a $15.3 billion deal to buy Mobileye, which makes sensors and cameras for driverless vehicles. In February, Ford (F) made a big investment in self-driving technology, buying a majority stake in artificial intelligence startup Argo AI for $1 billion.
In terms of surprising shifts in funding from 2016 until now, McConnell said investment in the food delivery space is drying up. “It was a very hot topic about a year ago, maybe more, but we’re seeing that trend shift overtime.”