I’m one of those people who, despite the occasional bouts of pandemic-induced neuroticism, relished the year of quarantining. I spent it doing what we extreme introverts do best: reading. I had always been a lover of books. I had once relied on them to escape that insufferable period of social awkwardness that often befalls that unfortunate class of people called teenagers. Back in those formative years, out of that well-known adolescent search for self-identity, I had read only those nineteenth-century novelists whose names automatically bestowed on the reader a mystique of worldliness. But now, into my 30’s, seeking no social…


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Talk to any cleantech investor who was active in the mid to late 2000’s, and you’ll hear tales of financial carnage and woe. From 2006 to 2011, venture capital firms spent over $25B on cleantech startups and lost over half of their money. Of the cleantech companies funded after 2007, more than 90% ultimately failed to return the capital invested. The aftermath was an overall cooling down of sustainability investing for the next decade. As one Bloomberg article put it in 2014, venture capitalists had come to view “cleantech” as a “dirty word.”

But fast forward just a few years…


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For decades, governmental technocrats had envisioned a future where the smart city would usher in a new era of efficiency of city management and improve the overall happiness of the citizenry. Imagine the beauty of the vision: autonomous buses and cars shuttling city dwellers to their destinations with utmost punctuality; street lanes reconfigured through the state-of-the-art techniques for traffic analysis to optimize the flow of cars; city funding reallocated to the services that would have the highest positive impact on citizens. In the name of the Internet of Things, everything would be connected. Smart cities would take data — from…


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*Industry Update: Facing industry backlash from the developer community, Apple is delaying its changes to its IDFA policy until early 2021 as opposed to September 2020.

It was both the proverbial thorn in the flesh to privacy advocates and the boon to the growth of the mobile marketing industry. In 2012, Apple added a new feature, the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), with the release of its new mobile operating system, iOS 6. The IDFA was a unique, random number assigned to each user’s device that enabled advertisers and data companies to track how users interacted with a mobile ad. In…


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For many of us, the state of our workplace has made that abrupt transition from the office to the home. Our daily commutes accordingly have adjusted: no more car rides stuck in the gut-wrenching frustrations of morning traffic; no more hectic mornings missing the bus or getting squeezed in your seats between unkempt, greasy-haired strangers. We’ve now reduced the commute to a daily weekday tumble from the bed directly to the work desk. Commuting has become a matter of moving to a different room in a physical sense and shifting mindsets in the psychological sense.

For many of us, holed…


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I was riding in the back of an autonomous driving car of a well-known startup. As the car navigated its way through its suburban testing field, I watched the car’s mental processes play out on a tablet screen in front of me. Every time a pedestrian came into our vicinity, an alert would pop up on the tablet screen, indicating that the car had correctly recognized the humanoid presence. …


How does an autonomous vehicle work? How does it understand what it sees? How does it know where to go? Oh, that majestic metallic creature, how does it know? In this post, I hope to provide you with a foundational understanding of the main mechanics of how an autonomous car works. After noticing that the only decent overviews of autonomous car technology involved the tedium of technical articles written by academics, I decided to develop a more accessible overview for anyone who was interested in the topic from a business perspective but wanted a better grasp of the underlying technology.


In this modern euphoria around autonomous vehicles, a number of new players have come into the fray from outside the traditional automotive industry. Self-driving startups like Zoox, Drive.ai, and May Mobility are names that typically come to mind. These are companies that are building out the full intelligent systems — the brains that enable an autonomous vehicle (AV) to rationalize how to navigate on the road.

Amid this growing hype, far less attention has centered on a number of lesser known but increasingly important players in the AV ecosystem. Such players do not strive to be the brains of the…


A couple weeks ago, Kathleen Walch and Ron Schemlzer of the AI market research and intelligence firm, Cognilytica, invited me as a guest speaker for their AI Today podcast. Today the podcast is finally up. Click on the link below to access it. Hope you enjoy!


A funny thing I’ve heard on more than one occasion was that accelerators were telling their startups to use AI buzz words like deep learning and machine learning in their pitches to investors. The idea, it goes, is that the unsophisticated investor, so impressed by these terms, would come knocking on the door with a term sheet, willing to shell out money to founders at any price.

While I exaggerate slightly here, the general notion holds true: with all this AI hype, it’s easy to get lost in this convoluted maze where AI is everywhere and everything. Accordingly, I’ve vowed…

The Word of Sam Huang

Principal at BMW i Ventures. VC trends. AI themes. Social commentaries. A personal blog bridging tech, business, and human issues by a curious mind.

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