Take Vaccines (from Wear Sunscreen)
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, vaccines would be it.
The long-term benefits of vaccines have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
If you’re worried about the way you look, try to remember, you’re probably fatter than you think, maybe you should consider an eating disorder.
Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.
Don’t worry too much about the future. If you’re nervous about an exam, ring up your school to schedule time, and make a bomb threat. If you’re a girl, lie about period pains to get out of anything you don’t want to do. Cheat if you think you can get away with it. Remember, someone with richer parents is getting private tuition.
Do one thing every day that scares you. Sing.
Do one thing each day that scares you, sing, dance, jump in front of a car.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Be open to new love. Remember, you can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex.
Floss. Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself. Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Get revenge, don’t forgive anyone for anything,
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Keep your old love letters, if you see an old lover in the street, try to run them over in your car.
Stretch. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t know.
If you’re unsure about what you’re going to do with your life, Try to remember, some of the most interesting people didn’t know what they were going to do at age twenty-two or even at forty, and nearly all of them are unemployed drug addicts forced to live on cat food.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when you are knee-capped by a loan shark.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, if you do have children, lock them under the stairs.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own. Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Get to really know your parents, they’re good for money. Milk them, then put them in an old people’s home.
Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Also understand that friends will come and go. This is because of your irritating personality. Nobody likes you. So if the only thing getting you thought the day is the misconception that people like you, end it now. (bang)
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel, but with a mask.
Travel as often as you can, live in New York City once, live in Northern California once, never live in Adelaide, it’s a hole.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders. Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Expect others to support you, it’s easy to get the dole and still do cash in hand work. Remember, only you will truly take care of you, so carry a concealed weapon.
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.
Don’t mess too much with your hair, or else by the time you’re thirty-five, you’ll look like Greg Matthews.
Be careful whose advice you buy, buy be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But most of all, don’t aim too high, you’re probably only suited to an office or factory job.
But trust me on the vaccines!
I recently read a great article by one of the greatest modern thinkers – Yuval Harari…
It reminds me of the Wear Sunscreen speech that we should adapt to our current predicaments… (see adaptation in next post!)
A couple of things standout from the article:
. humanity is far from helpless
. Epidemics are no longer uncontrollable forces of nature
. Science is great! 😉
. Covid has underlined the power of information technology
. One of the most remarkable things about the Covid year is that the internet didn’t break
. As humanity automates, digitalises and shifts activities online, it exposes us to new dangers – potential digital infrastructure crashes (our next “covid”)
. Science cannot replace politics – and it is a pity…
. Our scientific achievements have placed an enormous responsibility on the shoulders of politicians – a lot of them have failed us…
. One reason for the gap between scientific success and political failure is that scientists co-operated globally, whereas politicians tended to feud
. we have to be beware of future digital dictatorships
. we should never allow too much data to be concentrated in any one place.
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. People of all political camps should agree on at least three main lessons:
First, we need to safeguard our digital infrastructure. It has been our salvation during this pandemic, but it could soon be the source of an even worse disaster.
Second, each country should invest more in its public health system. This seems self-evident, but politicians and voters sometimes succeed in ignoring the most obvious lesson.
Third, we should establish a powerful global system to monitor and prevent pandemics. In the age-old war between humans and pathogens, the frontline passes through the body of each and every human being. If this line is breached anywhere on the planet, it puts all of us in danger. Even the richest people in the most developed countries have a personal interest to protect the poorest people in the least developed countries. If a new virus jumps from a bat to a human in a poor village in some remote jungle, within a few days that virus can take a walk down Wall Street.
A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged
It’s a bit dense of a read, but I liked it. Clearly, the disease is vascular and the article gives great clues of how it attacks the body and also talks about of a couple of things we can do to proactively protect ourselves a bit better.
One thing for sure: Vitamin D is key!
Weird times… with positive and negative impacts in our individual and collective lives. Personally, I have learned a lot in these last months… to value simple things, to better grasp that sometimes we tend to waste time in matters that simply do not matter, to learn more about the virtues of patience and keeping calm. I lost a bit of weight, I am also increasingly fitter and healthier, and I got closer to friends and family, oddly enough, because of the imposed social distance.
Professionally, we have proven that working together remotely works quite well – we can be highly productive and efficient, working actually more due to a better management of time… but, all of this has a toll after a long period of time. We start to miss personal interactions and the intense back to back routine of endless calls starts to sink in. To maintain company culture and build on top of the long last relationships that we want to explore with our stakeholders, we will need to mix remote with physical contact.
Weird times… indeed. Full of personal and professional challenges to overcome and opportunities to explore to our benefit.
Tech will save us all
Covid-19 sent everyone home and, three months later, not everyone has returned. In the US, before the pandemic, already 4.7 million or 3,4% of the population worked from home, and the number is increasing – according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one-third of the U.S. workforce, and half of all “information workers”, are able to work from home.
Now that everyone is experimenting with the benefits of working remotely, the will to return to the offices is vanishing, with 98% of people saying they would like to have the option to work remotely for the rest of their careers. The same respondents praise the flexible schedule (32%), the possibility to work from anywhere (26%) and not having to commute (21%).
Just on a side-note, not having to commute has a very positive impact on the environment too: Xerox estimated that it saved 92 million miles of driving by allowing its remote workers to avoid commuting, thereby reducing carbon emissions by almost 41,000 metric tons.
This opens up new opportunities for collaboration tools companies, as we have seen in past newsletters – is now the time when virtual reality and augmented reality will enter our daily lives? The expectations are high. Also, it gives companies new chances to re-evaluate their cost structure. Yeah, you read well.
Remote working allows companies to avoid some basic costs such as internet, work computer/phone, or food allowance. In an inquiry done with US workers that worked remotely, 80% of the respondents said the company did not pay for home internet; 72% did not get their phones paid; 87% didn’t receive for costs related to drinks/foods in coffee shops. This is something very small – you already pay for the internet and for your phone –, but there isn’t a good principle behind it.
So why should they keep their high cost offices in Silicon Valley if their workers prefer to work from home? And if they can work from home, then why can’t they be anywhere in the world? Twitter closed its offices until September and Facebook is planning not to open them in the long-term. If companies don’t have a physical space, they can hire people from anywhere in the world and we all know that some countries/locations offer higher wages than others.
Events without sales and networking
Tech events are a big opportunity to generate new leads, which is now more relevant than ever, considering that startups’ survival depends on their sales – 50% of them said they had 6 months or less of runway and 72% saw their revenue drop since the beginning of the crisis with the average startup experiencing a decline of 32%. When all these events are being canceled, postponed or done virtually, how can entrepreneurs do business? Experts say: organize your own event, bet on content marketing, be popular on social media and work on your marketplace.
Going back to the offices
But there is also another way of thinking – the Bank of America and IBM (in the US) believe that innovation and collaboration are essential and can only be done right in person, so they are doing all efforts to bring people back to the offices
While companies can send everyone home and expect to reduce their fixed costs by cutting real estate expenses and offer lower wages, some believe that it will have a negative impact on the organizational culture and the emotional connection to the company will be lost, meaning there are no reasons for people not to switch to something new that makes them feel more accomplished. There’s an opportunity for the gig economy to be filled with knowledge people.
If new companies are the new cornerstones of the economy, let’s help them!
New companies, tech companies, can save the economies from a complete breakdown, so shouldn’t all governments take some time to think about how to help them? As Startup Genome recently posted in its annual report, continuing to invest in local ecosystems will reinsure its growth and, consequently, will produce more value.
And since this is all about innovation, BCG shared its annual list of the world’s most innovative companies – led by the three A’s: Apple, Alphabet and Amazon – and Sifted shared some lessons about what we can learn from them.
Although none of these companies are European-based, the old continent is becoming more competitive when it comes to innovation – on the one hand, the EU continues to have a better performance than the United States, China, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and India; and on the other, Europe has more ecosystems in the Emerging Entrepreneurial Ecosystems list than the other continents. And there are people who strongly believe that Europe is better positioned than ever before to lead the way from now on.
He launched recently Tech Deciphered Show – a great podcast about tech and VC (unbiased opinion… really! I listen to a bunch of podcasts and this one competes neck to neck with the best of them!) – with Bertrand Schmitt, an entrepreneur with a great story and track record, that I had the pleasure to also e-meet recently.
I’ve listened to most of the episodes they’ve done so far.
I truly recommend to any entrepreneur or investor that should listen carefully to the two episodes that analyses the impact of covid19 in the world.
The full transcript is also here and is a good reading alternative:
The winner takes it all
Today is my 51th day confined at home. I would rather we weren’t in these circumstances, but I must admit I have been enjoying the slower pace. There’s a sense of guilt about it, but it was good to realize I wasn’t the only one.
Unfortunately, most businesses are unable to enjoy the silver linings of this situation. Covid-19 has been putting all companies to test, leaving them to the brutal and unsympathetic forces of natural selection. As it often happens in most crises, some players will thrive, while others will struggle to survive.
The winners and losers could be purely temporary. Most meetings might revert back to face to face, and our problems with overbooked planes and crowded restaurants could soon be back (miss this already?).
Telling long-term winners and losers is much harder than just predicting short-term adjustments. The world has been predicting the demise of cinemas and brick-and-mortar retail for too long now.
At this point, we already have some clues about who these winners are
Enterprise software has seen increasing demand for their services. Zoom is the most obvious one here. As of 28/04, its stock has appreciated 140% since the beginning of the year. Slack is also attracting the attention of remote workers. According to a series of Tweets from the CEO, its user base has grown from 10.4M in March 16 to 12.5M, just 10 days later! Facebook is also joining the party by releasing messenger rooms and even Skype has awakened from the death to make some new announcements lately.
Entertainment is going through some big momentum too. On 21/04, Netflix has crushed investors’ expectations by adding 16M new paying subscribers, more than double of what was expected by investors. Disney+ has seen tremendous growth adding 50M subscribers in its first 5 months, and HBO Max is set to launch in May. Expectations are high.
When it comes to short-video, the youngest social-media giant, Tik Tok was downloaded 2 million times between March 16 and 22, an increase from the previous week’s 1.7 million. The emerging short-video platform Quibi, a high-profile startup in the valley that has raised $1.8B, was made available to the public in April, and Youtube announced it is working on a competitor.
Among the best performing sectors this year is healthcare. Finding a cure for this virus would be the best news for any stockholder (and everyone in general) in a pharmaceutical company. At the same time, technology is also gaining space in a science-led industry. From real-time well-being trackers and medical professional’s support systems, to less obvious spaces like sextech
Many are struggling but not backing down just yet
Mobility is definitely one of the hardest-hit sectors. Even with questionable unit economics, the sector has been one of the hottest investment topics in recent years, with Bird holding the record of the fastest startup to ever reach the unicorn status, in only 2 years. Right now, these companies are reinventing their purpose, such as the micro-mobility company, Felyx, that has made their electric scooters available at a reduced rate to entrepreneurs who want to serve customers at home.
Tourism and hospitality are also going through a rough period with most restaurants and hotels closed. Travel companies are providing virtual booking services for sightseeing and others, such as online-only classes and webinars. Restaurants are selling vouchers for post-Covid-19 meals to keep their businesses alive. Airbnb has also debuted online experiences and their accommodation offers are becoming less short-term and more long-term rentals. Even movie theatres found a way. In a very “back to the future” style, some are promoting drive-in experiences. Do you have Grease vibes?
This time is different
At the risk of falling for the same trap of those who predict the end of industries for too long, we will place our bets on who the long-term winners will be.
The first one is Cybersecurity. The growing importance of this vertical is not new. As people and devices become more connected and dependent on online services, cyber risks increase significantly. Still, IT architectures are shifting towards becoming more decentralized and reliant on 3rd party services, exposing companies to new attacks and increasing their vulnerabilities. Just in March, online threats have risen by as much as six-times their usual levels. By accelerating remote work and promoting digital environments, this crisis emphasizes the relevancy of cyber security for years to come.
As we scale-down human interactions, our reliance on digital engagements is increasing. Existing user interaction platforms must evolve towards automation and new interfaces. We’ve never seen brands being so dependent on customer experience as they are in the digital age, and now, more than ever, customers are unsatisfied. They want refunds of their trips, they expect their favorite restaurants to have take-away, and they order groceries to be delivered within a day. How to deal with such demanding clients? You’re right: with a very efficient contact center and an optimized virtual assistant.
For the near-future, we expect a bumpy road ahead with lower growth expectations, scracer capital availability and rising unemployment. Still, on the health front, things seem to be improving, and hopefully, the peak of the worst health crisis of our generation is past us, and we can go back to business (almost as usual) soon enough
Life as we know it has changed in the last few months. It started as something that was only happening in China to something that’s keeping us all awake at night and concerned. Some said it was inevitable; that, sooner or later, something like this would happen. 14 years ago, Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, described to a TED audience what the next pandemic would look like. At the time, it sounded almost too horrible to take it seriously.
We’re not facing the end of the human race, but what everyone failed to predict were the human and economic consequences of such an impactful event. Research, medicine and, unfortunately, even some lives will help us overcome this situation and build a better world, based on our learnings from our previous errors.
However, once we are back to our daily lives – even before that – we will face a new economic reality. Right now, our lives and markets are frozen still. As USV founder Fred Wilson noted, while all assets are probably subject to a sell-off in a crisis, the market begins sorting winners and losers fast.
It’s time to look at this atypical situation as an opportunity to change, to start creating and implementing solutions that we wouldn’t dare to think about before in such a globalized, interconnected, fast-paced world. Let’s take the time we have been given to reinvent ourselves and face a new market reality.
A brief look at the world
Tribe Capital warns that a downturn can take years of cascading developments to fully express itself, if we consider similar past events. The international issues that have marked 2020 so far led to a spike in market volatility leading the S&P 500 declining 30% from its peak in just 16 days. In the 2008 debt crisis, it took 350 days to decline almost 60% from its peak and it still didn’t bottom out for another 200 days.
While ones are experiencing the need to dismiss their employees, others like Amazon or Walmart are surfing the wave and foreseeing the possibilities ahead of them. This tech giant announced plans to make 100 thousand new hires for its logistics operations and the Walmart is hiring another 150 thousand. Moreover, specifically in venture capital, there are new attempts emerging to counter the panic by mediating between firms still cutting checks and the companies that need the money. A new program called Luma Launch out of LA has already gathered 400 names of investors seeking activity. There is a sense of irony, however… because Luma itself will not be among those investing…
The VC narrative
There is more than one voice advising to prepare for tougher times, so investors are slowing down their analysis of new opportunities whilst reaching their portfolio companies with important recommendations to keep their businesses sound. Priyamvada Mathur lists the need to cut unnecessary expenses to extend cash runway, expand the customer base, be sure to have a dependable board of directors and, at last, but not least, how to become a great storyteller about how the company is successfully solving a problem…
Redpoint Ventures’ managing director Tomasz Tunguz also leaves six startup disciplines for challenging times, including the focus of the team: while sales teams need to keep pipelines primed by wooing existing customers, CEOs need to think about transitioning from management to leadership roles. Sequoia also warns their founders and CEO’s for the effects of Coronavirus, the black swan of 2020: some companies may experience softening demand; some may face supply challenges. While the Federal Reserve and other central banks can cut interest rates, monetary policy may prove a blunt tool in alleviating the economic ramifications of this global health crisis
What’s coming next?
We don’t know exactly what that world will look like – although Sequoia has published a matrix with several economic macro scenarios -, we can imagine some of it. Basically, take the trends that were already in motion and hit the fast-forward button. Virtualization of events, activities, and interactions – the MIT Technology Review says that social distancing is here to stay for much more than a few weeks. Automation of processes and services. Political and economic decentralization. “Now is the time when we need to think about what we would like the new world to look like, and start planning for it and building it”
What do the numbers say? CB Insights sees a 16% quarterly decline coming in Q1’20 – second only to the 36% fall between Q2’12 and Q3’12 – and it is expected to decrease even more in the next quarter. While the analysts at Pitchbook see COVID-19 as, at least in part, exacerbating old trends. Sustainability and profitability, which are quintessential to surviving any downturn, had re-entered the VC lexicon no later than the WeWork debacle. The founder-friendliness in term sheets had already taken a blow, with investors simply demanding more, and that should be expected to continue. Exits, which had already receded somewhat after the IPO frenzy, will also fall again; despite SoftBank’s considerations mentioned above, many firms will also probably be less than willing to sell assets at lower valuations. At the same time, there is no lack of potential dry powder, so even with fewer exit possibilities, investments will probably not be hit in the same way as in 2008
A moment to enhance the Portuguese entrepreneurs
Some Portuguese startups, among them some of our portfolio companies, such as Jscrambler, Probely, Automaise, Taikai, Reckon.ai, or EatTasty, are taking efforts to become even more relevant and put their know-how and solutions at the service of the society and health entities. We’re proud to see that when needed, there’s no competition