Auto Tech Exits Gathering Momentum In 2016

Large venture-backed exits within auto tech have been sporadic since 2012, but acquisition interest continues to grow.

This year has seen an explosion of interest in auto tech, as corporations pile into the autonomous vehicle space and investors increasingly target startups in self-driving and other auto tech disciplines. While both venture capital and corporate investors have ratcheted up their auto tech activity, exit activity has been relatively sparse, though headlined by several marquee deals.

Using CB Insights data, we took a look at exit activity from 2012-2016 within our definition of auto tech, which includes startups using software to improve safety, convenience, and efficiency in vehicles (and excludes activity in fields such as energy/powertrain, parking, and rentals/marketplaces). We focused on VC-backed companies and first exits (for example, this would leave out subsequent acquisitions after a company’s IPO).

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Source: Auto Tech Exits Gathering Momentum In 2016

How long does it take to build a website? – Bill Erickson

This is one of the most common questions I hear. It’s also one of the key factors in the success of your project.

The short answer is: longer than you would expect, but don’t rush it. There are three main factors in a project’s timeline:

  1. How soon can they start?
    High quality service providers are usually booked, so can’t start on your website immediately. There could be some delay from when you first hire the provider to when they actually get started.
  2. How long before a website is ready for review?
    Most designers and developers have a clear process for building a website, and can describe roughly how long it will take to get a website in your hands.
  3. How long before you can launch?
    This final factor is the biggest variable and depends largely on you, the client. It involves reviewing the website, making change requests, and finalizing content.

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Source: How long does it take to build a website? – Bill Erickson

The Anatomy of a WordPress Theme – from Looks Awesome

Using a WordPress theme is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get a high quality website. A good theme can allow you to implement all the latest design trends and get a site up the same day (5 minutes to install). Knowing the anatomy of a WordPress theme can help you get a better understanding of how a WordPress theme works.

The best thing about themes for many people is how simple and easy it makes your work. All you need is some basic knowledge to carry out complex tasks. There are many things a WordPress user can do without having any technical background at all. If you are looking for a theme, checkout out our WordPress Theme Repository. When you are theme shopping, make sure and choose a theme that has all the functionality you want built-in. 

This post goes over the different blocks and files that make up a WordPress theme – to accomplish two objectives:

  1. Give you a better understanding of how a theme is works.
  2. Help you understand how a WordPress theme generates web pages.

This article is good for anyone who wants to become more familiar with the terminology surrounding a WordPress Theme. We will look at some basics and then open up a premium theme and take a look at it.

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Source: The Anatomy of a WordPress Theme

Disrupting The Auto Industry: The Startups That Are Unbundling The Car – CB Insights

While self-driving tech receives the lion’s share of media attention, a host of less-heralded startups are targeting specific pieces of automotive infrastructure or components.

As startups focused on autonomous driving grab headlines, corporations are jockeying for a competitive edge in auto tech through startup acquisitions and investments, as well as partnerships and internal initiatives.

As we’ve previously discussed in analyses of startups unbundling Procter & Gamble, unbundling the bank, or even unbundling PetSmart, emerging companies often focus on tackling specific categories or verticals, rather than attacking incumbents broadly (hence the term “unbundling”).

Using CB Insights data, we identified a host of private startups that are working not only in self-driving tech and automated driver assistance but also to improve different services and products associated with the auto industry. These range from high-profile autonomous driving startups like, backed by Andreessen Horowitz, to companies focused on enhancing more traditional elements, like auto repair and tire technology.

Tech giants like Apple and major automakers like GM are also scrambling to secure ties to adjacent verticals, most notably the ride-hailing industry, but ride-hailing and car-sharing are not included in the infographic.

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Source: Disrupting The Auto Industry: The Startups That Are Unbundling The Car

The Merging Worlds of Technology and Cars – Bloomberg

The Merging Worlds of Technology and Cars

The line between the technology and automotive industries is blurring. The rise of rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft means that transportation is being tied ever more closely to your cell phone, while autonomous driving technology is turning your car into a computer. But these developments are expensive: Carmakers’ R&D budgets jumped 61 percent, to $137 billion from 2010 to 2014.

Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne thinks it makes no sense for carmakers to spend billions of dollars developing competing, yet largely identical systems. To share some of the risk—and the cost—the incumbent automotive giants and their would-be disruptors are teaming up in an ever-growing, ever more complex series of alliances.

So Fiat Chrysler, for instance, has paired up with Google to develop 100 self-driving minivans, and is in discussions with Uber about a similar venture. Google has, in turn, invested in Uber, as have Toyota, Microsoft and Tata, owner of Jaguar Land Rover. Bill Ford, chairman of the eponymous carmaker, has meanwhile invested in Lyft, as has General Motors, and Lyft has partnered with China’s Didi, itself the subject of a $1 billion investment from Apple.

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Source: The Merging Worlds of Technology and Cars

Happytables Pivots to Provide Restaurant Analytics and Insights – WordPress Tavern

This is a little out of date but an interesting transition. Niche, KPI-driven analytics dashboards are definitely the way to go:

Happytables is changing from being a platform that hosts restaurant websites to one that provides analytics and insights by tapping into apps that restaurants are already using to promote their businesses. The company uses WordPress as a command center for the application that communicates with various restaurant-tech APIs to deliver information to the dashboard in realtime.

“We started with the website builder a while back,” Founder and CEO Noel Tock said. “It’s been a great ride, but we realized two things: 1) Website builders have become a race to the bottom with regards to revenue as well as extremely competitive, and 2) From our many conversations with restaurants, their challenges have become much larger; consolidating data and insights from all the products they now use.”

One of the Happytables beta restaurants in London uses 14 different applications to manage its sales, operations, and marketing, and Tock says this trend is only growing.

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Source: Happytables Pivots to Provide Restaurant Analytics and Insights – WordPress Tavern

Toyota-Uber Puts Automakers in Rival Ride-Sharing Alliances – Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp.’s investment in Uber Technologies Inc. has drawn the battle lines between the world’s largest automakers, which have now solidified partnerships with competing ride-hailing apps in the burgeoning field of on-demand transportation.

Along with buying a small stake in Uber, Toyota will begin offering leases to Uber drivers, who’ll be able to cover their payments with what they earn ferrying around the app’s users. The collaboration follows investments by Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co. in Uber rivals Gett Inc. and Lyft Inc., respectively.

Aligning with Uber, Lyft and Gett represent strategic moves by the world’s biggest automakers to have an inside look at an industry taking aim at the concept of car ownership. The hailing apps are luring outsiders with auto industry ambitions including Apple Inc., which invested $1 billion this month in Chinese car-booking giant Didi Chuxing.

QuickTake Sharing Economy

“There is a huge market in ride-sharing,” said Steve Man, a Hong Kong-based analyst covering the auto industry at Bloomberg Intelligence. “This is changing the way we use cars and the automakers don’t want to miss out.”

Build Expertise

Toyota and Uber, the largest global ride-hailing provider, declined to comment on the size of the investment.

The Japanese automaker has no interest in taking a big position in the ride-sharing company or eventually controlling it, said a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be named. Toyota could easily get out of the investment if the partners decide to go their separate ways, the person said. Toyota wants to build expertise about how consumers use ride-sharing services, the person said.

Gett, the taxi-ordering rival to Uber based in Tel Aviv, said on Tuesday it raised $300 million from Germany’s Volkswagen. In January, GM invested $500 million into Lyft, the second-largest U.S. ride-hailing service. GM President Dan Ammann joined Lyft’s board, and the automaker has begun leasing vehicles to Lyft drivers in Chicago, with the companies planning to expand the program.

BMW AG said Wednesday that it took an unspecified stake in Scoop Technologies Inc., which offers a car-pooling app that matches employees of companies such as Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to share vehicles for commutes in the San Francisco Bay area. The move follows BMW starting ReachNow in Seattle, an expanded car-sharing service that will let users book chauffeur services and have cars delivered.

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Source: Toyota-Uber Puts Automakers in Rival Ride-Sharing Alliances – Bloomberg

How to select a new B2B eCommerce Platform? 6 Ways to Plan for Your New Project. –

Selecting a B2B eCommerce Platform for your B2B organization can be a rather difficult task.  If this is your first time on this site, read the companion article “Why your b2b e-commerce rfp might be broken.”  I also understand that RFPs are a common business practice, so I want to help you get through it as fast as possible.  To help you, here are a few best practices for selecting a B2B ecommerce platform — as well as a free template for creating B2B eCommerce RFPs of your own.

What software vendors should you look at?  Check out my newest report evaluating the top mid-market B2B eCommerce platforms

6 Best Practices for Selecting Your B2B eCommerce Platform

  1. Start with writing a business case. Your business case should include a return on investment based on hard data like site traffic, conversion and average order value and soft data like reduced operational cost and cost per customer call. Use your Business Case to prioritize what you do first and to measure the effectiveness of your decisions.
  2. Understand the components of an e-commerce system: Educate yourself on every aspect of an e-commerce platform. Leave the B2B part out for now.  Learn how to create customer experiences, merchandising, promotions and what out of the box (OOTB) means. You will find standard features that span across platforms – things like the product information, shopping cart, and orders. That’s a lot of work I know, so do not do this with 12 vendors.
  3. Get IT and the Business on the same page: To select a platform that is right for your organization, you must balance what you need to deliver with how to construct it. Come together with joint use cases, requirements, and business case.  This should include experience management, merchandising tools (product relationships), and architecture.
    To the IT team: Figure out what your business counterparts need, why they need it, and the tools they require. The customer experience does matter, no matter how much of a geek you are.
    To the Business team: Regardless of what is out of the box, IT has a lot of work to do to get ready for this type of project on your internal systems.
    Help each other out – advocate for each other, and maybe even work to understand each other. I promise it will go a long way.


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Source: How to select a new B2B eCommerce Platform? 6 Ways to Plan for Your New Project. *

How we built Skype in Media on WordPress –

Last quarter, we were hired by Skype and tasked with building a smaller site, featuring Skype TX. Skype TX is “studio-grade hardware for the broadcast industry, which features peerless integration with Skype.” In other words, Skype Tx is powerful hardware and software for professionals in live broadcast situations.

Because of a hard launch date, this project had a super short timeline and we decided a smaller team would keep us agile. Jaimie would be our Project Manager, Simon would handle the designs/PSD, Damon would deal with the front-end development, and I oversaw the back-end development, as well as serving as a lead for the project as a whole.

I’d like to share our teams experience through building a new website for a pretty well known client.


skype-in-media-showcasePart of the scope, was a custom design, which featured five different templates. Skype wanted something similar to their current production site, but freshened up a bit for the new product launch. Simon also had brand guidelines and some direction from our point of contact at Skype. I spoke with Simon who told me, “All design research starts with listening. One of the issues Skype had was [that] Skype TX was buried.”

Simon took some time to research the product and find the business value within brand guidelines. This process is called “business proposition.” During the design phase, Simon also had to make the case for a few features.

“Behind good design, there’s a reason for everything. Form follows function since we’re designing not only for the client, but the client’s client…” (AKA the user!)

Thanks to software like Invision, communication between the Simon and the client went smoothly and after a few revisions, both Damon and I had PSDs to work with.

Choosing the theme and plugins

Almost all of our projects include our starter theme, wd_s. This build was no exception! Wd_s enables developers to spin-up a starter themes quickly and develop with modern build tools like Sass and Gulp. We didn’t install too many plugins; we used a select few to manage content via point-and-click, ensure everything had a featured image, rearranging page order, and more. We also used a few custom plugins as well.

The Hero


By far the most complicated part of this build was the Hero.

Take a look at the requirements:

  • Every post and page must have a hero
  • Use post title, excerpt, and featured image as the content, but can add additional content can be added in a control panel
  • By adding additional images/content, the hero turns into carousel
  • Each carousel slide can have a modal
  • Modal must support oEmbeds
  • Customizable headline
  • Customizable paragraph
  • Support for two different buttons, one of which opens a modal

If your head is spinning, don’t worry. So was mine! After speaking with Chris for a bit, we put together a development roadmap and I got to work. Because this hero had to be on every post and page, we decided to use CMB2 to create repeatable group metaboxes. These would serve as the optional “control panel.”

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Source: How we built Skype in Media on WordPress –

Embracing the Internet: What’s new in 2016? | GForces Blog

Once again we have surveyed the Motor Trader Top 200’s web presences to establish what tools and services they are employing to help drive their businesses online. Inevitably there are movements, but most interestingly two highly important elements of being online have hit saturation point within the UK’s top dealer groups – representing a first within our survey which has been running since 2010.

100% social. 100% mobile.

Yep, for the first time in the six year history of our ‘Embracing the Internet’ study two of the online aspects we monitor have now been taken up by 100% of the UK’s top 200 motor retailers. Looking at the two, it is mobile optimisation that has had the meteoric rise – up to 100% from just 9% of the top 200 in September 2010. Social media has been used by more dealerships for longer, with 50% of them using it back in 2010 and a more gradual increase to reach the magic 100% mark now.

Focus on conversion tools

Over the past three months the number of dealers offering tools which actively help convert browsers into strong web leads has increased. Finance calculators are proving extremely popular, up 8% from December to reach 71% of the Motor Trader Top 200. Instant online vehicle valuations have been adopted by an additional 7.5% now standing at 44%, and live chat is up a modest 3% – totaling 47% of the top 200.

Good news for Aftersales

For the most part, aftersales tools have seen a notable increase in uptake – especially online service booking which is now available through 66% of the top 200’s websites. This represents an increase of 21% compared to just three months ago. Online tyre provision is up too, with 15% of the top 200 offering the service, up 2% on December 2015. Service plans have taken a slight hit, with a 0.5% drop to 8%, albeit service plans remain a very popular point-of-sale add on within the showroom.

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Source: Embracing the Internet: What’s new in 2016? | GForces Blog