“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
Enjoy things I’ve seen, read and listened to last week…
Is america “normal” again?
Education is so important. A lot more than politics… unfortunately in Portugal we are losing this battle… we should focus on deploying a real strategy and less on politics or marketing big plans that are just promises that never see the day of light…
More thoughts about tech trends for 2021… always a good read!
Articles about the inner workings of VCs
Philosophical teaser that I enjoyed
and tools that I had a look at…
One last (insanely weird) thing… market games that might end really bad sooner or later…
The Q3 Report
A very detailed and relevant method of assessing the value of SaaS public companies. Worth a read.
“Q3 earnings season for cloud businesses is now behind us. The 61 companies that I’ll discuss here (which is not an exhaustive list, but is still comprehensive) all reported quarterly earnings sometime between October 26 – December 9. New additions to the analysis from Q2 include Snowflake, Asana, JFrog, and Sumo Logic. In this post, I’ll take a data-driven approach in evaluating the overall group’s performance, and highlight individual standouts along the way. As a venture capitalist, I naturally cater my analysis through the lens of a private investor. Over my ~4.5 years at Redpoint Ventures, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of entrepreneurs who are all building special companies. Through these interactions, I’ve built up mental benchmarks for metrics on which I place extra emphasis. My hope is that this analysis can provide startup entrepreneurs with a framework for how to manage their businesses around SaaS metrics (e.g., net retention and CAC payback).”
Banking needs to help more small and medium sized companies (SMBs).
Fintech companies entering with solutions that are alternatives to traditional banks are more than welcome…
This a good example!
Liberis, the U.K.-based fintech that provides finance for small businesses as an alternative to a traditional bank loan or extended overdraft, has replenished its own coffers with £70 million in funding. The round is a mixture of debt and venture debt, although the company is declining to disclose the percentage split, so we can likely chalk this up as mostly debt to fund the loans Liberis issues.
Providing the financing are previous backers British Business Investments, Paragon Bank and BCI Europe, along with new partner Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). It brings the total funding raised by Liberis to £200 million, including more than £50 million in equity funding. “The new funds will be used to fuel company growth, launch new products and markets, and provide additional customer financing solutions,” says the fintech.
To date, 2007-founded Liberis has provided over £500 million in financing to 16,000 SMEs across Europe, the U.S. and the U.K. (the product is available in five new countries: U.S., Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic and Slovakia). However, lending has really picked up lately, with £250 million lent in the past two years alone.
Hit me baby one more time!
I don’t know if you remember, but by this time, last year, we launched 20by20. A brilliant (we believe) initiative that gathered several players from the Portuguese entrepreneurial ecosystem to give their vision on what would be the trends for 2020. As you can expect, none of us predicted that the trend would be … well … hell.
Don’t get us wrong. Our guest writers were actually really good predicting the technological trends and the pandemic accelerated the adoption of some of the solutions we’ve all been preaching about for some time now. Let’s take a quick look to the macro topics highlighted last year:
· 5G – it seemed that the new generation of broadband cellular networks was getting in shape in the beginning of the year, but it seems like we will have to wait a bit more while companies and regulators find a deal. Meanwhile, several industries are already preparing their products with software that benefits from this technology (e.g. ultra connected cars), so, we think it’s safe to say that we’re not that far.
· Cybersecurity – definitely a trend, but not a winner. Companies had major difficulties protecting their assets with the transition to home offices. Many still had on-premises servers and had their workers accessing them via VPN. It’s crucial to prevent and people are more aware of that, which led to a hot November for this industry.
· Sustainability – a strong (but no one expected to be this stronger) winner. Airplanes grounded, cars in garages and people consumerism at its minimum level. No one expected this. The planet gained a few days, and so the future generations.
· The gig economy – well… not a good year for it. Let’s skip this.
· Technology at the service of the humans – ding ding ding. Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner! We never saw so many developers, founders, creatives joining forces to create technological solutions to respond to so many different challenges of the societ
So, let’s do it again! Now with a special guest.
As you see, we really liked this concept. So, this year we invited 21 people to set 21 trends for 2021 – introducing 21by21. Excited, yet? First of all, who are they? They are founders, investors, businessmen and women, from different sectors and with different backgrounds. A conclusion that we always find interesting is that, even though we all belong to the same industry, one way or another, all of us have a very personal perspective and that brings value to it.
So, without further ado, the bets for 2021 are on:
· Sustainability – elected by the second time in a row. No one expects consumer habits to go back to be the same, and people are more severe when choosing brands that show concerns with the environment and a transparent supply chain.
· Short video will dethrone YouTube – new generations don’t have the same attention span, they don’t need more than a few seconds of video to know the highlights. Let’s see if this is the year of short videos and how influencers and entertainment industries will adapt to that demanding new process.
· Brain food – mental health is now one of the biggest concerns of people and companies for 2021, and it is expected that more and more consumers will look for products that help them stay focused and fight anxiety, and that more companies will launch products with L-Theanine, caffeine and cannabinoids.
· Hybrid work – All of us have already experienced the benefits (and challenges) of home office, but organizations are facing some additional adversities in transmitting their culture to their workers, so hybrid methodologies are being highly praised by leaders across industries.
· Data – 2020 locked us down, so all we had was the internet. Companies collected years-worth of online growth and client & sales data, and they can now use them wisely (if they know how to…).
· VC investors are hopeful – startups will have a major role in the recovery of economies worldwide and our part as investors is to boost them up. Governmental entities may also find in these private, agile companies a faster way to innovate and solve society’s new challenges.
Last but not the least, we invited a very special guest to participate: AI. GPT-2 wrote a very clear text of what it expects to be the trends for 2021. Curious? We were too.
Read more! and the past editions are also cool!
Thanks to all the participants of this initiative. It couldn’t have been possible without you. Let’s hope we don’t mess up next year too!
Thank you to those who followed our endless thoughts throughout the year. If you want to catch up, you can see what we’ve been talking about here…
April – The unexpected new world
May – The winner takes it all
June – I want damage modeling
August – The bright new days
September – We’re chained
October – The perfect storm
November – Everybody be cool, this is a robbery!
A great initiative powered by Bright Pixel!
My two cents… Read the rest at https://21by21.brpx.com/
Nobody could phantom that 2020 would end to be one of the weirdest years of our lifetime… so far.
So, it is really hard to accept the challenge to think and write about what 2021 has in store for us.
What I write below is based on three underlying premises:
First, that the future is mostly already here.
Second, that we can all desire that next year will be hopefully a return to “normalcy”… but it’s highly likely it won’t. The world will not be the same no more.
Third, we are all suffering and just grasping from the fact that the pace of change has dramatically increased and changed gears… right in front of us. We need to hold on… for the ride.
In 2020, we had to change how we live and all thought it would be just temporary… but, next year will we have still to adapt.
In several ways, I think we fast forwarded several trends that were already creeping around us.
In 2021, we will undoubtedly have to tackle several challenges ahead of us… and there is one thing I take for granted: our lives, for the better and for the worst, will become even more digital.
Namely, due to rising environmental concerns, health related issues, generational shifts and out of sheer and practical necessity… companies and people will do a lot more things in a digital realm.
Work, play, buy, sell, watch, share, collaborate, monitor and control – everything, increasingly online.
Finally, due to my role as an early stage investor, I have to try to have a stance on what might or not be a trend going forward.
For what it’s worth, here go my two cents about several key trends I believe will be picking up even more pace in the near future:
In the B2C world: digital entertainment is on the rise; online gaming and esports are becoming massive; we cannot keep up with pace of the vast array of sharing platforms that cater several niche interests; the way we buy everything is changing, and therefore, e-commerce is in constant flux; sustainability and environmentally driven decisions will impact more and more our daily actions – what we eat, wear, live and how we travel or commute; finally, above all, I feel that people are also a lot more focused on their physical and mental health and overall well-being…
(and all of this will be more and more mobile centric… simply because the zombie-like-neck-down human condition is here to stay, with everybody looking at a glowing device firmly held by one of our hands, whilst we walk pass everything around us…)
In the B2B world: “remotely-more, physically-less” working environments are here to stay; therefore, distributed cloud solutions to flexibly manage everything work process we have in our companies are on the rise; collaborative tools we be in also dire need; so will be cyber security products and services to protect ourselves and our assets from increased vulnerabilities and risks that we will all face; technology to handle contactless or unattended human interactions in customer facing services will be sought for in higher demand; hyper automation and extracting intelligence and decision making from the ever-increasing volume of accessible data is for sure an unstoppable trend.
Trends apart, on a ending positive note, 2021 will simply be what we will individually and collectively make of it!
“Every moment has to be complete in and of itself” (from Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness)
Last week, and with much fanfare, Slack announced that it would sell itself to tech behemoth Salesforce for a whopping $27.7 billion. By many measurements, this should be an incredible achievement and success story. In reality, it represents a decisive about-face for Slack, which had previously made clear that, despite new competition from Microsoft’s largely copycat product Teams, it wanted to remain independent.
Our free market trades on the assumption that good, innovative products will prevail over less effective ones released by entrenched firms like Microsoft. But Slack’s decision to be acquired by Salesforce indicates that today, the exact opposite is true. Slack is but one of many stories in Silicon Valley of a “defensive” acquisition, where a company is no longer able to compete independently against the tech giants. These giants, armed with nearly limitless funds and extensive client relationships, frequently abuse their advantage and bully smaller upstarts into oblivion. Even Slack, which built an incredibly powerful product and operated with notorious efficiency, could not stay independent in a match-up against Microsoft. And if a company like Slack can’t stand up to the consolidation of corporate power, consumers’ ability to freely choose the best and most useful product is at risk.
Juntou-se em debate Alexandre Santos (Bright Pixel/SONAE IM), Maria Moura Oliveira (UPTEC), João Pedro Fernandes (BERD) e Nuno Soares (INOVA+) para discutir a transição de programas-quadro europeus no âmbito de I&I e o crescimento de oportunidades direcionadas para as startups europeias, cada vez mais com foco no acesso a capital e nas fases de demonstração para a aceleração na entrada no mercado.
De acordo com os representantes das startups e o centro de inovação, estes instrumentos de financiamento representam não só uma oportunidade de internacionalização, através da disseminação e visibilidade em canais comerciais, como de networking para venda de serviços e/ou produtos a outra empresas. Apontam-se, no entanto, como aspetos-chave de sucesso a importância da seleção das calls e montagem de projetos sólidos, assentes no envolvimento de organizações com reconhecimento europeu na fase de piloto. Alerta-se ainda que para as start-ups é vital que as candidaturas estejam alinhadas com a sua estratégia de curto e médio prazo.
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.
Tolerance to risk is a tough issue to tackle in my line of work… and it is curious to see that each person has different tolerance levels due to their past experiences and the way they see the world… this article is a story that highlights well that… there are three distinct sides of risk:
The odds you will get hit.
The average consequences of getting hit.
The tail-end consequences of getting hit.
The first two are easy to grasp. It’s the third that’s hardest to learn, and can often only be learned through experience.
In early stage investing, most invest without never having a full grasp of the tail-end consequences of getting hit, or some might know what that means but don’t care (aka a lot of money to spare or a less than advisable care with the money of others)… but, I believe that the best early stage investors factor in their approach a big chunk of probability of suffering of tail-end consequences of getting hit in their investments. They have a clear idea of the risks involved and that it is a part of the game, no matter how cautious you are in every step of the way. Informed data driven risk takers are better than gun swinging ones…
a great article from Morgan Housel