Startup News Digest: 7/28/2017

Our weekly take on some of the biggest stories in startup and tech policy. To receive this weekly digest in your inbox, sign up at

Alexa Accelerator Names Nine Startups for Inaugural Amazon and Techstars Program. Amazon, in partnership with Techstars, welcomed the first class of its new Alexa Accelerator. Amazon will incubate nine startups for three months, providing seed money, mentorship opportunities, and access to University of Washington researchers. The Alexa Accelerator is an initiative spun out of the Alexa Fund, and is specifically geared toward incubating startups that work on applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to voice platforms. Amazon’s Alexa product line utilizes voice recognition to allow people to interact with a robot personal assistant, and the company has been heavily investing in technology to help bolster the products.

The IPO Market in 2017 is Underwhelming at Best. According to a new study, 2017 is behind 2016 (and most other recent years) in terms of the number of IPOs it has produced. While 2016 saw a decline in the number of U.S. IPOs by 65 percent, 2017 is actually underperforming in comparison. This data comes on the heels of a disappointing run for Snap’s IPO, which generated $3.4 in proceeds, but whose share price has declined almost consistently. You can read the full study here.

Adobe Finally Kills Flash Dead. This week, Adobe announced that it is phasing out its software platform, Flash, by 2020. Plagued by security concerns for several years, the platform was already unsupported on the iOS and Android mobile operating systems. This move is unlikely to cause major disruption as most major applications and services have transitioned to more stable and secure platforms like HTML5. However, some legacy video and game content created by smaller developers from the early 2000s may be affected and become permanently inaccessible.

Google Targets AI Startups with Developers Launchpad Studio Mentorship Program. Google launched a new incubator this week that is focused on machine learning and and artificial intelligence research. The first AI studio will be based in a Launchpad Space in San Francisco, with further worldwide expansion planned later. Google will provide funds, space to work, and advice from Google’s research arm.

What We’ve Been Up to. Congress wasn’t the only one hustling this week. On Wednesday, Engine hosted the final panel discussion in our “Nuts and Bolts  of Encryption” series, where attendees heard from three startup leaders about how their companies use encryption to solve unique challenges. Later that evening, we convened the briefing attendees for a networking reception so they could mingle and engage with one another on the issue. On Thursday, we led a group of nine startup executives from around the country – ranging from Jackson, Mississippi to Scottsdale, Arizona to Fargo, North Dakota – to speak with congressional staffers from 17 Hill offices about the importance of net neutrality to their businesses. The fun doesn’t stop there though. Next week, we look forward to convening Members of Congress and startups in their districts for Startup Day Across America.