Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism


This post is by Dorothy Neufeld from Visual Capitalist

Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism

Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism

Without a steady influx of tourism revenue, many countries could face severe economic damage.

As the global travel and tourism industry stalls, the spillover effects to global employment are wide-reaching. A total of 330 million jobs are supported by this industry around the world, and it contributes 10%, or $8.9 trillion to global GDP each year.

Today’s infographic uses data from the World Travel & Tourism Council, and it highlights the countries that depend the most on the travel and tourism industry according to employment—quantifying the scale that the industry contributes to the health of the global economy.

Ground Control

Worldwide, 40 countries rely on the travel and tourism industry for more than 15% of their total share of employment. Unsurprisingly, many of the countries suffering the most economic damage are island nations.

At the same time, data reveals the extent to which certain larger nations rely on tourism. In New Zealand, for example, 479,000 jobs are generated by the travel and tourism industry, while in Cambodia tourism contributes to 2.4 million jobs.

Rank Country T&T Share of Jobs (2019) T&T Jobs (2019) Population
1 Antigua & Barbuda 91% 33,800 97,900
2 Aruba 84% 35,000 106,800
3 St. Lucia 78% 62,900 183,600
4 US Virgin Islands 69% 28,800 104,400
5 Macau 66% 253,700 649,300
6 Maldives 60% 155,600 540,500
7 St. Kitts & Nevis 59% 14,100 53,200
8 British Virgin Islands 54% 5,500 30,200
9 Bahamas 52% 103,900 393,200
10 Anguilla 51% 3,800 15,000
11 St. Vincent & the Grenadines 45% 19,900 110,900
12 Seychelles 44% 20,600 98,300
13 Grenada 43% 24,300 112,500
14 Former Netherlands Antilles 41% 25,700 26,200
15 Belize 39% 64,800 397,600
16 Cape Verde 39% 98,300 556,000
17 Dominica 39% 13,600 72,000
18 Vanuatu 36% 29,000 307,100
19 Barbados 33% 44,900 287,400
20 Cayman Islands 33% 12,300 65,700
21 Jamaica 33% 406,100 2,961,000
22 Montenegro 33% 66,900 628,100
23 Georgia 28% 488,200 3,989,000
24 Cambodia 26% 2,371,100 16,719,000
25 Fiji 26% 90,700 896,400
26 Croatia 25% 383,400 4,105,000
27 Sao Tome and Principe 23% 14,500 219,200
28 Bermuda 23% 7,800 62,300
29 Iceland 22% 44,100 341,200
30 Thailand 21% 8,054,600 69,800,000
31 Malta 21% 52,800 441,500
32 New Zealand 20% 479,400 4,822,000
33 Lebanon 19% 434,200 6,825,000
34 Mauritius 19% 104,200 1,272,000
35 Portugal 19% 902,400 10,197,000
36 Gambia 18% 129,600 2,417,000
37 Jordan 18% 254,700 10,200,000
38 Dominican Republic 17% 810,800 10,848,000
39 Uruguay 16% 262,500 3,474,000
40 Namibia 15% 114,600 2,541,000

Croatia, another tourist hotspot, is hoping to reopen in time for peak season—the country generated tourism revenues of $13B in 2019. With a population of over 4 million, travel and tourism contributes to 25% of its workforce.

How the 20 Largest Economies Stack Up

Tourist-centric countries remain the hardest hit from global travel bans, but the world’s biggest economies are also feeling the impact.

In Spain, tourism ranks as the third highest contributor to its economy. If lockdowns remain in place until September, it is projected to lose $68 billion (€62 billion) in revenues.

Rank Country Travel and Tourism, Contribution to GDP
1 Mexico 15.5%
2 Spain 14.3%
3 Italy 13.0%
4 Turkey 11.3%
5 China 11.3%
6 Australia 10.8%
7 Saudi Arabia 9.5%
8 Germany 9.1%
9 United Kingdom 9.0%
10 U.S. 8.6%
11 France 8.5%
12 Brazil 7.7%
13 Switzerland 7.6%
14 Japan 7.0%
15 India 6.8%
16 Canada 6.3%
17 Netherlands 5.7%
18 Indonesia 5.7%
19 Russia 5.0%
20 South Korea 2.8%

On the other hand, South Korea is impacted the least: just 2.8% of its GDP is reliant on tourism.

Travel, Interrupted

Which countries earn the most from the travel and tourism industry in absolute dollar terms?

Topping the list was the U.S., with tourism contributing over $1.8 trillion to its economy, or 8.6% of its GDP in 2019. The U.S. remains a global epicenter for COVID-19 cases, and details remain unconfirmed if the country will reopen to visitors before summer.

Travel and tourism contribution to GDP in absolute terms

Meanwhile, the contribution of travel and tourism to China’s economy has more than doubled over the last decade, approaching $1.6 trillion. To help bolster economic activity, China and South Korea have eased restrictions by establishing a travel corridor.

As countries slowly reopen, other travel bubbles are beginning to make headway. For example, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have eased travel restrictions by creating an established travel zone. Australia and New Zealand have a similar arrangement on the horizon. These travel bubbles allow citizens from each country to travel within a given zone.

Of course, COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on employment and global economic activity with inconceivable outcomes. When the dust finally settles, could global tourism face a reckoning?

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How U.S. Consumers are Spending Differently During COVID-19


This post is by Iman Ghosh from Visual Capitalist

In 2019, nearly 70% of U.S. GDP was driven by personal consumption.

However, in the first quarter of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has initiated a transformation of consumer spending trends as we know them.

Consumer Spending in Charts

By leveraging new data from analytics platform 1010Data, today’s infographic dives into the credit and debit card spending of five million U.S. consumers over the past few months.

Let’s see how their spending habits have evolved over that short timeframe:

How U.S. Consumers are Spending Differently During COVID-19

The above data on consumer spending, which comes from 1010Data and powered by AI platform Exabel, is broken into 18 different categories:

  • General Merchandise & Grocery: Big Box, Pharmacy, Wholesale Club, Grocery
  • Retail: Apparel, Office Supplies, Pet Supplies
  • Restaurant: Casual dining, Fast casual, Fast food, Fine dining
  • Food Delivery: Food delivery, Grocery Delivery, Meal/Snack kit
  • Travel: Airline, Car rental, Cruise, Hotel

It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has consumers cutting back on most of their purchases, but that doesn’t mean that specific categories don’t benefit from changes in consumer habits.

Consumer Spending Changes By Category

The onset of changing consumer behavior can be observed from February 25, 2020, when compared year-over-year (YoY).

As of May 12, 2020, combined spending in all categories dropped by almost 30% YoY. Here’s how that shakes out across the different categories, across two months.

General Merchandise & Grocery

This segment saw a sharp spike in initial spending, as Americans scrambled to stockpile on non-perishable food, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper from Big Box stores like Walmart, or Wholesale Clubs like Costco.

In particular, spending on groceries reached a YoY increase of 97.1% on March 18, 2020. However, these sudden panic-buying urges leveled out by the start of April.

  Feb 25, 2020 YoY Spending May 5, 2020 YoY Spending Overall Change
Big Box +14.2% -1.5% -15.7%
Grocery +1.0% +9.4% +8.4%
Pharmacy -3.6% -23.8% -20.2%
Wholesale Club +13.0% +2.6% -10.4%

Pharmaceutical purchases dropped the most in this segment, possibly as individuals cut back on their healthcare expenditures during this time. In fact, in an April 2020 McKinsey survey of physicians, 80% reported a decline in patient volumes.

Retail

With less foot traffic in malls and entire stores forced to close, sales of apparel plummeted both in physical locations and over e-commerce platforms.

  Feb 25, 2020 YoY Spending May 5, 2020 YoY Spending Overall Change
Apparel -5.6% -51.9% -46.3%
Office Supplies -8.9% -2.8% +6.1%
Pet Supplies +2.7% -18.5% -21.2%

Interestingly, sales of office supplies rose as many pivoted to working from home. Many parents also likely required more of these resources to home-school their children.

Restaurant

The food and beverage industry has been hard-hit by COVID-19. While many businesses turned to delivery services to stay afloat, those in fine dining were less able to rely on such a shift, and spiraled by 88.2% by May 5, 2020, year-over-year.

  Feb 25, 2020 YoY Spending May 5, 2020 YoY Change Overall Change
Casual Dining -2.7% -64.9% -62.2%
Fast Casual 4.2% -29.6% -33.8%
Fast Food 2.0% -20.9% -22.9%
Fine Dining -18.6% -88.2% -69.6%

Applebees or Olive Garden exemplify casual dining, while Panera or Chipotle characterize fast casual.

Food Delivery

Meanwhile, many consumers also shifted from eating out to home cooking. As a result, grocery delivery services jumped by over five-fold—with consumers spending a whopping 558.4% more at its April 19, 2020 peak compared to last year.

  Feb. 25, 2020 YoY Spending May 5, 2020 YoY Spending Overall Change
Food Delivery +18.8% +67.1% +48.3%
Grocery Delivery +23.0% +419.7% +396.7%
Meal/ Snack Kit +7.0% -5.9% -12.9%

Food delivery services are also in high demand, with Doordash seeing the highest growth in U.S. users than any other food delivery app in April.

Travel

While all travel categories experienced an immense decline, cruises suffered the worst blow by far, down by 87.0% in YoY spending since near the start of the pandemic.

  Feb 25, 2020 YoY Spending May 5, 2020 YoY Spending Overall Change
Airline -7.7% -99.1% -91.4%
Car Rental -6.3% -86.0% -79.7%
Cruise -18.7% -105.7% -87.0%
Hotel -7.0% -85.9% -78.9%

Airlines have also come to a halt, nosediving by 91.4% in a 10-week span. In fact, governments worldwide have pooled together nearly $85 billion in an attempt to bail the industry out.

Hope on the Horizon?

Consumer spending offers a pulse of the economy’s health. These sharp drops in consumer spending fall in line with the steep decline in consumer confidence.

In fact, consumer confidence has eroded even more intensely than the stock market’s performance this quarter, as observed when the Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) is compared to the S&P 500 Index.

Consumer Sentiment Index

Many investors dumped their stocks as the coronavirus hit, but consumers tightened their purse strings even more. Yet, as the chart also shows, both the stock market and consumer sentiment are slowly but surely on the mend since April.

As the stay-at-home curtain cautiously begins to lift in the U.S., there may yet be hope for economic recovery on the horizon.

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VergeSense grabs $9M for its people-counting sensor tech as offices eye COVID changes


This post is by Natasha Lomas from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Facilities management looks to be having a bit of a moment, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

VergeSense, a US startup which sells a ‘sensor as a system’ platform targeted at offices — supporting features such as real-time occupant counts and foot-traffic-triggered cleaning notifications — has closed a $9M strategic investment led by Allegion Ventures, a corporate VC fund of security giant Allegion.

JLL Spark, Metaprop, Y Combinator, Pathbreaker Ventures, and West Ventures also participated in the round, which brings the total funding raised by the 2017-founded startup to $10.6M including an earlier seed round.

VergeSense tells TechCrunch it’s seen accelerated demand in recent weeks as office owners and managers try to figure out how to make workspaces safe in the age of COVID-19 — claiming bookings are “on track” to be up 500% quarter over quarter. (Though it admits business did also take a hit earlier in the year, saying there was “aftershock” once the coronavirus hit.)

So while, prior to the pandemic, VergeSense customers likely wanted to encourage so called ‘workplace collisions’ — i.e. close encounters between office staff in the hopes of encouraging idea sharing and collaboration — right now the opposite is the case, with social distancing and looming limits on room occupancy rates looking like a must-have for any reopening offices.

Luckily for VergeSense, its machine learning platform and sensor packed hardware can derive useful measurements just the same.

It’s worked with customers to come up with relevant features, such as a new Social Distancing Score and daily occupancy reports. While it already had a Smart Cleaning Planner feature which it reckons will now be in high demand. It also envisages customers being able to plug into its open API to power features in their own office apps that could help to reassure staff it’s okay to come back in to work, such as indicating quiet zones or times where there are fewer office occupants on site.

Of course plenty of offices may remain closed for some considerable time or even for good — Twitter, for example, has told staff they can work remotely forever — with home working a viable job for much office work. But VergeSense and its investors believe the office will prevail in some form, but with smart sensor tech that can (for example) detect the distance between people becoming a basic requirement.

“I think it’s going to less overall office space,” says VergeSense co-founder Dan Ryan, discussing how he sees the office being changed by COVID-19. “A lot of customers are rethinking the need to have tonnes of smaller, regional offices. They’re thinking about still maintaining their big hubs but maybe what those hubs actually look like is different.

“Maybe post-COVID, instead of people coming into the office five days a week… for people that don’t necessarily need to be in the office to do their work everyday maybe three days a week or two days a week. And that probably means a different type of office, right. Different layout, different type of desks etc.”

“That trend was already in motion but a lot of companies were reluctant to experiment with remote work because they weren’t sure about the impact on productivity and that sort of thing, there was a lot of cultural friction associated with that. But now we all got thrust into that simultaneously and it’s happening all at once — and we think that’s going to stick,” he adds. “We’ve head that feedback consistently from basically all of our customers.”

“A lot of our existing customers are pulling forward adoption of the product. Usually the way we roll out is customers will do a couple of buildings to get started and it’ll be phased rollout plan from there. But now that the use-case for this data is more connected to safety and compliance, with COVID-19, around occupancy management — there’s CDC guidelines [related to building occupancy levels] — now to have a tool that can measure and report against that is viewed as more of a mission critical type thing.”

VergeSense is processing some 6 million sensor reports per day at this point for nearly 70 customers, including 40 FORTUNE 1000 companies. In total it says it provides its sensor hardware plus SaaS across 20 million sqft, 250 office buildings, and 15 countries.

“There’s an extreme bear case here — that the office is going to disappear,” Ryan adds. “That’s something that we don’t see happening because the office does have a purpose, rooted in — primarily — human social interaction and physical collaboration.

“As much as we love Zoom and the efficiency of that there is a lot that gets lost without that physical collaboration, connection, all the social elements that are built around work.”

VergeSense’s new funding will go on scaling up to meet the increased demand it’s seeing due to COVID and for scaling its software analytics platform.

It’s also going to be spending on product development, per Ryan, with alternative sensor hardware form factors in the works — including “smaller, better, faster” sensor hardware and “some additional data feeds”.

“Right now it’s primarily people counting but there’s a lot of interest in other data about the built environment beyond that — more environmental types of stuff,” he says of the additional data feeds it’s looking to add. “We’re more interested in other types of ambient data about the environment. What’s the air quality on this floor? Temperature, humidity. General environmental data that’s getting even more interest frankly from customers now.

“There is a fair amount of interest in wellness of buildings. Historically that’s been more of a nice to have thing. But now there’s huge interest in what is the air quality of this space — are the environmental conditions appropriate? I think the expectations from employees are going to be much higher. When you walk into an office building you want the air to be good, you want it to look nicer — and that’s why I think the acceleration [of smart spaces]; that’s a trend that was already in motion but people are going to double down and want it to accelerate even faster.”

Commenting on the funding in a statement, Rob Martens, president of Allegion Ventures, added: “In the midst of a world crisis, [the VergeSense team] have quickly positioned themselves to help senior business leaders ensure safer workspaces through social distancing, while at the same time still driving productivity, engagement and cost efficiency. VergeSense is on the leading edge of creating data-driven workspaces when it matters most to the global business community and their employees.”

How Global Central Banks are Responding to COVID-19, in One Chart


This post is by Marcus Lu from Visual Capitalist

How Global Central Banks are Responding to COVID-19, in One Chart

How Global Central Banks are Responding to COVID-19

When times get tough, central banks typically act as the first line of defense.

However, modern economies are incredibly complex—and calamities like the 2008 financial crisis have already pushed traditional policy tools to their limits. In response, some central banks have turned to newer, more unconventional strategies such as quantitative easing and negative interest rates to do their work.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, central banks are once again taking decisive action. To help us understand what’s being done, today’s infographic uses data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to compare the policy responses of 29 systemically important economies.

The Central Bank Toolkit

To begin, here are brief descriptions of each policy, which the IMF sorts into four categories:

1. Monetary Policies

Policies designed to control the money supply and promote stable economic growth.

Policy Name Intended Effect
Policy rate cuts Stimulates economic activity by decreasing the cost of borrowing
Central bank liquidity support Provides distressed markets with additional liquidity, often in the form of loans
Central bank swap lines Agreements between the U.S. Fed and foreign central banks to enhance the provision of U.S. dollar liquidity
Central bank asset purchase schemes Uses newly-created currency to buy large quantities of financial assets, such as government bonds. This increases the money supply and decreases longer-term rates

2. External Policies

Policies designed to mitigate the effects of external economic shocks.

Policy Name Intended Effect
Foreign currency intervention Stabilizes the national currency by intervening in the foreign exchange market
Capital flow measures Restrictions, such as tariffs and volume limits, on the flow of foreign capital in and out of a country

3. Financial Policies for Banks

Policies designed to support the banking system in times of distress.

Policy Name Intended Effect
Easing of the countercyclical capital buffer A reduction in the amount of liquid assets required to protect banks against cyclical risks
Easing of systemic risk or domestic capital buffer A reduction in the amount of liquid assets required to protect banks against unforeseen risks
Use of capital buffers Allows banks to use their capital buffers to enhance relief measures
Use of liquidity buffers Allows banks to use their liquidity buffers to meet unexpected cash flow needs
Adjustments to loan loss provision requirements The level of provisions required to protect banks against borrower defaults are eased

4. Financial Policies for Borrowers

Policies designed to improve access to capital as well as provide relief for borrowers.

Policy Name Intended Effect
State loans or credit guarantees Ensures businesses of all sizes have adequate access to capital
Restructuring of loan terms or moratorium on payments Provides borrowers with financial assistance by altering terms or deferring payments

Putting Policies Into Practice

Let’s take a closer look at how these policy tools are being applied in the real world, particularly in the context of how central banks are battling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Monetary Policies

So far, many central banks have enacted expansionary monetary policies to boost slowing economies throughout the pandemic.

One widely used tool has been policy rate cuts, or cuts to interest rates. The theory behind rate cuts is relatively straightforward—a central bank places downward pressure on short-term interest rates, decreasing the overall cost of borrowing. This ideally stimulates business investment and consumer spending.

If short-term rates are already near zero, reducing them further may have little to no effect. For this reason, central banks have leaned on asset purchase schemes (quantitative easing) to place downward pressure on longer-term rates. This policy has been a cornerstone of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s (Fed) COVID-19 response, in which newly-created currency is used to buy hundreds of billions of dollars of assets such as government bonds.

When the media says the Fed is “printing money”, this is what they’re actually referring to.

2. External Policies

External policies were less relied upon by the systemically important central banks covered in today’s graphic.

That’s because foreign currency interventions, central bank operations designed to influence exchange rates, are typically used by developing economies only. This is likely due to the higher exchange rate volatility experienced by these types of economies.

For example, as investors flee emerging markets, Brazil has seen its exchange rate (BRL/USD) tumble 30% this year.

In an attempt to prevent further depreciation, the Central Bank of Brazil has used its foreign currency reserves to increase the supply of USD in the open market. These measures include purchases of $8.8B in USD-denominated Brazilian government bonds.

3. Financial Policies for Banks

Central banks are often tasked with regulating the commercial banking industry, meaning they have the authority to ease restrictions during economic crises.

One option is to ease the countercyclical capital buffer. During periods of economic growth (and increased lending), banks must accumulate reserves as a safety net for when the economy eventually contracts. Easing this restriction can allow them to increase their lending capacity.

Banks need to be in a position to continue financing households and corporates experiencing temporary difficulties.

—Andrea Enria, Chair of the ECB Supervisory Board

The European Central Bank (ECB) is a large proponent of these policies. In March, it also allowed its supervised banks to make use of their liquidity buffers—liquid assets held by a bank to protect against unexpected cash flow needs.

4. Financial Policies for Borrowers

Borrowers have also received significant support. In the U.S., government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced several COVID-19 relief measures:

  • Deferred payments for 12 months
  • Late fees waived
  • Suspended foreclosures and evictions for 60 days

The U.S. Fed has also created a number of facilities to support the flow of credit, including:

  • Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility: Purchasing bonds directly from highly-rated corporations to help them sustain their operations.
  • Main Street Lending: Purchasing new or expanded loans from small and mid-sized businesses. Businesses with up to 15,000 employees or up to $5B in annual revenue are eligible.
  • Municipal Liquidity Facility: Purchasing short-term debt directly from state and municipal governments. Counties with at least 500,000 residents and cities with at least 250,000 residents are eligible.

Longer-term Implications

Central bank responses to COVID-19 have been wide-reaching, to say the least. Yet, some of these policies come at the cost of burgeoning debt-levels, and critics are alarmed.

In Europe, the ECB has come under scrutiny for its asset purchases since 2015. A ruling from Germany’s highest court labeled the program illegal, claiming it disadvantages German taxpayers (Germany makes larger contributions to the ECB than other member states). This ruling is not concerned with pandemic-related asset purchases, but it does present implications for future use.

The U.S. Fed, which runs a similar program, has seen its balance sheet swell to nearly $7 trillion since the outbreak. Implications include a growing reliance on the Fed to fund government programs, and the high difficulty associated with safely reducing these holdings.

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Despite COVID-19, optimism reigns in the Midwest’s startup scene


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Startups in the Midwest are optimistic despite the fact that a fair number of companies in the region are suffering from economic impacts stemming from COVID-19, recently collected data shows.

The global pandemic has shaken the U.S. economy, but it hasn’t affected each area in the same way. States have seen differing levels of infection, paces of response, qualities of medical infrastructure and so on. What happens to Silicon Valley startups in the COVID-19 era, therefore, might not be exactly the same as what happens to Boston’s or Utah’s startup ecosystems (more on Boston here, Utah here).

A report out this month from Sandalphon Capital that digs into the reality, reaction and sentiment of the Midwest’s startup scene paints an interesting picture. While data collected from 197 startup CEOs from the region includes worrisome responses regarding fundraising and cash runways, it also reflects more optimism and green shoots than we anticipated.

This morning, let’s study a few key data points from the Chicago-based, early stage venture capital firm’s survey to better understand one of America’s most interesting, if least-covered, startup scenes.

Chin up

The full survey — you can find Sandalphon’s summation and the link here — contains a wealth of data, but today we’re focusing on three things:

  • COVID-19’s direct impacts
  • runway and fundraising situations
  • CEO optimism

Impact

Popping the hood on Vroom’s IPO filing


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Yesterday afternoon, Vroom, an online car buying service, filed to go public. Based on its SEC filing, Vroom is a highly-successful private company in fundraising terms that has attracted over $700 million during its life as a startup. T. Rowe Price, AutoNation, Durable Capital Partners, General Catalyst and other investors fueled the firm during its youth according to Crunchbase data.

Vroom most recently raised $254 million in December 2019, a Series H round that valued the company at around $1.5 billion. From its mid-2013 Series A to today, Vroom has tried to accelerate from the startup world to the grown-up domain of the public markets. How did it do?

Finding out is our goal this morning. We’re also curious why the firm would pursue an IPO today; public offerings tend to shun volatile, uncertain periods. So let’s dig into the numbers and do a bit of a unicorn check-up.

What does a private, car-focused e-commerce company worth $1.5 billion look like under the hood?

Un-profits

TechCrunch dug into Vroom’s market last year, writing that the company “looks a lot like Carvana and Shift,” and noting that in 2018 the company had “laid off 25-50% of its staff as it exited several markets.” Vroom was therefore a bit early to the waves of unicorn layoffs that we’ve seen in 2020.

I raise the layoffs as they imply that the company might be in reasonable financial shape; what did the cuts buy the company in terms of profitability?

[05.18.2020] Signals


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

This just might be the best thing you read today. “This virus has been, both literally and metaphorically, a disease of modernity. Why? Because It attacks via the vectors of modernity: trade linkages, obesity, diabetes, air travel, mass transportation, urban density, social media, etc. Understanding long-run change requires understanding where modernity itself is under threat, and whether those threats will lead to meaningful and investable change.” Paul Kedrosky: Sub criticality, Spread, and Future of Now.

For about thirty minutes this month, the world had a chance to get a first-hand experience of the power of Facebook. Well, at least the world that uses mobile apps on the iPhone. The social platform was having technical problems and as a result for about half-an-hour apps from companies big and small were all broken — thanks to a minor server configuration glitch. This is a problem when you rely on one company, or its efforts for the web infrastructure.   When Every App Crashes

We have all become photo editors, who know that what we share has a lot of impact on how we live, and whom we meet. It is strange, how quickly we have become visually literate, no matter what our ages.  Self Portrait With iPhone

Too many email newsletters? And no, I don’t mean those hot-take newsletters or long essay newsletters. But it is just the nonsense that the companies you have done business with spam you with. You gotta spend time and unsubscribe from them all.  Why Unsubscribing From Email Subscriptions Made My Life More Optimized

Ironically, I was talking to some friends about ordering fresh produce boxes from farmers directly, and now this news that the small farm boom will fall victim to the coronavirus. Dan Barber, a chef, and restauranteur in this interview, point out that individuals can’t make up for the loss of restaurants, but more have to buy fresh produce boxes (and that also goes for diaries) in order to prevent big food from taking over. The small farm boom is about to go bust.

Ranked: The Fastest Growing and Declining Retail Brands, from 2019-2020


This post is by Katie Jones from Visual Capitalist

Retail brands growing and declining graphic

The Fastest Growing and Declining Retail Brands in 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to the savage disruption of retail the world over.

Almost overnight, foot traffic in physical stores disappeared, and supply chains were left scrambled. Now at a major fork in the road, many retailers are forced to make tough decisions that were completely unforeseen.

While some global retail giants are laying down their weapons and filing for bankruptcy, others are innovating to save themselves, serving their customers in new and unexpected ways.

Today’s graphic uses data from Kantar’s Brand Z™ report to illustrate the retailers that are growing through adversity, and those that may struggle to survive.

Editor’s note: The report compares brand value of the top 75 retailers globally between 2020 and 2019, using mid-April as a cut-off date for incorporating latest financial information. Some early effects of the pandemic are incorporated in these calculations, but the pandemic’s impact on retail going forward is uncertain.

Retailers Rising to the Top

The calculation of brand value refers to the total amount that a brand contributes to the overall business value of the parent company.

In this case, it is measured by taking the financial value of a brand (latest data as of mid-April), and multiplying it by the brand’s contribution, or the ability of the brand to deliver value to the company by predisposing consumers to choose the brand over others or pay more for it, based purely on perceptions.

Based on these metrics, activewear brand lululemon is the world’s fastest growing retail brand for the second year running. Famous for its culture of accountability and global community events, the brand has struck the perfect balance between a seamless online and offline experience.

Explore the 10 fastest growing retail brands of 2020 below:

Brand Brand Value 2020 Brand Value % Change
2020 Vs. 2019
Category Country
lululemon $9.7B 40% Apparel 🇨🇦 Canada
Costco $28.7B 35% Retail 🇺🇸 United States
Amazon $415.9B 32% Retail 🇺🇸 United States
Target $10.6B 32% Retail 🇺🇸 United States
Walmart $45.8B 24% Retail 🇺🇸 United States
JD.com $25.5B 24% Retail 🇨🇳 China
Sam’s Club $6.8B 19% Retail 🇺🇸 United States
Alibaba $152.5B 16% Retail 🇨🇳 China
Tanishq $2.8B 15% Retail 🇮🇳 India
Flipkart $4.7B 14% Retail 🇮🇳 India

Interestingly, Walmart holds three spots in the ranking as it also owns Flipkart and Sam’s Club. Moreover, the American retail giant purchased a stake in Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com, which has grown from 5% to 12%.

The two brands entered the strategic partnership together with the goal of dominating the Chinese market and surpassing Alibaba.

The Recipe for Retail Success

While every retailer has a unique growth strategy, according to the authors of the report, there are three factors that are undeniably crucial for success.

  • Value: Offering value for money through fair pricing for all products or services.
  • Uniqueness: Having a clear purpose and standing for something that consumers find meaningful.
  • Premium: Being perceived as being worth more than the price consumers pay.

Further, research also suggests that successful brands dominate their respective category when it comes to brand awareness and consistently provide experiences that enrich their customers’ lives, as demonstrated by lululemon.

As retailers continue to shift their focus towards digital transformation, consumers are still finding great value in having the best of both worlds when it comes to combining e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, otherwise known as “brick and click”.

Retailers Struggling to Stay Relevant

Unfortunately, there are several brands that haven’t yet mastered this winning combination, and the ruthless pandemic economy has only emphasized their struggles.

Here are the 10 fastest declining retail brands of 2020:

Brand Brand Value 2020 Brand Value % Change
2020 Vs. 2019
Category Country
Under Armour $2.6B -34% Apparel 🇺🇸 United States
H&M $4.7B -27% Apparel 🇸🇪 Sweden
Walgreens $6.8B -26% Retail 🇺🇸 United States
Tim Hortons $5.4B -20% Fast Food 🇨🇦 Canada
Subway $13.8B -20% Fast Food 🇺🇸 United States
Burberry $3.8B -18% Luxury 🇬🇧 United Kingdom
M&S $2.5B -18% Retail 🇬🇧 United Kingdom
Uniqlo $8.2B -16% Apparel 🇯🇵 Japan
Dunkin’ $2.4B -15% Fast Food 🇺🇸 United States
The North Face $2.4B -14% Apparel 🇺🇸 United States

Under Armour’s distribution relies heavily on third party retailers and department stores, so the brand has understandably been negatively impacted by the mass store closures.

While the brand focuses on expanding its personalized and connected fitness product offerings, it faces huge pressure from powerful competitors such as Nike and Adidas who already dominate this space.

A Rising Tide Lifts All Shipments

2020 has instigated a retail renaissance of epic proportions through accelerated digitization and changing consumer values. Ultimately, some brands will be better positioned than others to benefit from these changes.

As retailers begin reopening for business, they are presented with an opportunity to recalibrate the current retail landscape by setting new standards for the industry.

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SoftBank’s Q1 2020 earnings presentation mixes comedy and drama


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Today we’re digging into SoftBank’s latest earnings slides. Not only do they contain a wealth of updates and other useful information, but some of them are gosh-darn-freaking hilarious. We all deserve a bit of levity after the last few months.

The visual elements we quote below come from SoftBank’s reporting of its own results from its fiscal year ending March 31, 2020. Much of the deck is made up of financial reporting tables and other bits of stuff you don’t want to read. We’ve cut all that out and left the fun parts.

Before we dive in, please note that we are largely giggling at some slide design choices and only somewhat at the results themselves. We are certainly not making fun of people who’ve been impacted by layoffs and other such things that these slides’ results encompass.

But we are going to have some fun with how SoftBank describes how it views the world, because how can we not? Let’s begin.

Data, slides

TechCrunch has a number of folks parsing SoftBank’s deck this morning, looking to do serious work. That’s not our goal. Sure, this post will tell you things like the fact that there are 88 companies in the Vision Fund portfolio, and that when it comes to unrealized gains and losses, the portfolio has seen $13.4 billion in gains and $14.2 billion in losses. $4.9 billion of gains have been realized, mind you, while just $200 million of losses have had the same honor.

And this post will tell you that the “net blended [internal rate of return] for SoftBank Vision Fund investors is -1%.”

Hell, you probably also want to know that Uber was detailed as Vision Fund’s worst-performing public company, generating a $1.46 billion loss for the group. In contrast, Guardant Health is good for a $1.67 billion gain, while 2019 IPO Slack has been good for $605 million in profits. Those were the two best companies in the Vision Fund’s public portfolio.

But what you really want is the good stuff. So, shared by slide number, here you go:

Slide 11:

80 Days


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

Today is yet another Monday in the pandemic — 12th, to be exact. And just like that, I am on day # 80 of the self-quarantine. It is as if life has always been this way. Wake up. Go for a walk. On your way back, see people jogging or biking along The Embarcadero. No one was wearing masks — willfully ignoring the physics of how the virus has already killed nearly a hundred thousand Americans and many more around the world. 

When I started this quarantine, the weather was not as lovely. Colder than usual, gray skies and occasional fog — it was as if the weather was reflecting our collective moodiness. These days, the sun rises early and mostly shines brighter for most of the day. It is warmer, and it feels like May in San Francisco.  The silence of the lockdown is slowly becoming a distant memory. Overhead, the trucks and other vehicles are rumbling across the Bay Bridge. More cars are rushing along the roads, as if they sped faster, they could outpace the virus. Not yet, but soon, you can expect the legions to rebel against the shelter-in-place orders in San Francisco Bay Area. 

On Twitter, in media and elsewhere, things are back to normal. The divisiveness, the finger-pointing, the tear downs, lack of empathy, and most importantly, the cult of me is back in season. We are not solving the problems. We have gone back to being a problem. I am back to limiting my Twitter use to 15 minutes a day — just like before the pandemic started to ravage the body of our planet. 

The silence of the planet cleaned the river that ran through Delhi, and the sea that surrounds Venice. And for a brief while, the social web was full of kindness towards each other — a brief glimpse of the life of co-existence without filter bubbles. And then came the trolls, bots, and half-truths. 1

Deep down, I always knew that the break from our selfishness was temporary. In our post-algorithmic reality, it is every man for himself. In our world of retweets, likes, and online friends, life is performance art. Pandemic, it seems, was just another backdrop, much like Iceland, or some exotic restaurant. The problem with our social web dominated lives is that reality is a bit distorted. Reality is what your self-created bubble tells you. 

The social costs of these lowest denominator algorithms are only starting to show up in our real world. “Twitter is one of those products where I can see overuse making people have a long term, problem with the product emotionally,” said Scott Belsky, chief product officer of Adobe in the Stuck@Om podcast episode we recorded a few weeks ago. “And that’s being exacerbated in the day we’re living in now.” 2

Of course, 80 days later, my own life has changed — maybe for the better.  I have learned that doing things in two-hour increments is way better than trying to get everything done in one go. I have two robot assistants now — iRobots, I mean. They clean and mop the floors. Once a week, every surface in every room is cleaning off any (and imaginary dust.) Doing dishes with the hand before going to bed is better than waiting to do a full load in the dishwasher. Sunday is the day for laundry and ironing. (Pro tip: wash your socks separately from the regular laundry load, and turn them inside out. This way, you won’t lose any socks, and they will last longer.) 

My daily walks are a new habit that is going to go with me into the future. And the same goes for forced meditation breaks. Instead of the ambitious and often ambiguous idea of productivity, I have embraced efficiency — efficiency with which I can do my work. If you don’t use the social web as much, and you don’t read pointless publications— you have a lot of time to get your work done in eight hours and spend the rest of your time learning — mostly through reading.  You get a lot more done using the remote work tools — video and voice — and don’t have to spend 60 minutes on a meeting that can be wrapped up in 45 minutes. Life is too precious for preambles. And not everything is a zoom

More importantly, the 80-day quarantine has made me ask the two questions that I should have been asking all along — what do I value. And what is worth my time. Those two questions are intertwined. 

Today feels like just another Monday – start of yet another long week. I don’t remember what it was like before the quarantine. Strange — but this feels very normal now. 

May 18, 2020. San Francisco

  1. Read: Why social networks focus on the wrong problems?
  2. Listen to Stuck@Om with Scott Belsky

How Many People Die Each Day?


This post is by Jenna Ross from Visual Capitalist

How Many People Die Per Day

How Many People Die Each Day?

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the media continues to rattle off statistics at full force.

However, without a frame of reference, numbers such as the death toll can be difficult to interpret. Mortalities attributed to the virus, for example, are often measured in the thousands of people per day globally—but is this number a little or a lot, relative to typical causes of death?

Today’s graphic uses data from Our World in Data to provide context with the total number of worldwide daily deaths. It also outlines how many people who die each day from specific causes.

Worldwide Deaths by Cause

Nearly 150,000 people die per day worldwide, based on the latest comprehensive research published in 2017. Which diseases are the most deadly, and how many lives do they take per day?

Here’s how many people die each day on average, sorted by cause:

Rank Cause Daily Deaths
#1 Cardiovascular diseases 48,742
#2 Cancers 26,181
#3 Respiratory diseases 10,724
#4 Lower respiratory infections 7,010
#5 Dementia 6,889
#6 Digestive diseases 6,514
#7 Neonatal disorders 4,887
#8 Diarrheal diseases 4,300
#9 Diabetes 3,753
#10 Liver diseases 3,624
#11 Road injuries 3,406
#12 Kidney disease 3,370
#13 Tuberculosis 3,243
#14 HIV/AIDS 2,615
#15 Suicide 2,175
#16 Malaria 1,698
#17 Homicide 1,111
#18 Parkinson disease 933
#19 Drowning 809
#20 Meningitis 789
#21 Nutritional deficiencies 740
#22 Protein-energy malnutrition 635
#23 Maternal disorders 531
#24 Alcohol use disorders 507
#25 Drug use disorders 456
#26 Conflict 355
#27 Hepatitis 346
#28 Fire 330
#29 Poisonings 198
#30 Heat (hot and cold exposure) 146
#31 Terrorism 72
#32 Natural disasters 26
Total Daily Deaths 147,118

Cardiovascular diseases, or diseases of the heart and blood vessels, are the leading cause of death. However, their prominence is not reflected in our perceptions of death nor in the media.

While the death toll for HIV/AIDS peaked in 2004, it still affects many people today. The disease causes over 2,600 daily deaths on average.

Interestingly, terrorism and natural disasters cause very few deaths in relation to other causes. That said, these numbers can vary from day to day—and year to year—depending on the severity of each individual instance.

Total Daily Deaths by Country

On a national level, these statistics vary further. Below are the total deaths from all causes for selected countries, based on 2017 data.

how many people die each day
China and India both see more than 25,000 total deaths per day, due to their large populations.

However, with 34.7 daily deaths per million people each day, Russia has the highest deaths proportional to population out of any of these countries.

Keeping Perspective

While these numbers help provide some context for the global scale of COVID-19 deaths, they do not offer a direct comparison.

The fact is that many of the aforementioned death rates are based on much larger and consistent sample sizes of data. On the flipside, since WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, daily confirmed deaths have fallen in a wide range between 272 and 10,520 per day—and there is no telling what could happen in the future.

On top of this variance, data on confirmed COVID-19 deaths has other quirks. For example, testing rates for the virus may vary between jurisdictions, and there have also been disagreements between authorities on how deaths should even be tallied in the first place. This makes getting an accurate picture surprisingly complicated.

While it’s impossible to know the true death toll of COVID-19, it is clear that in some countries daily deaths have reached rates 50% or higher than the historical average for periods of time:

excess deaths covid-19

Time, and further analysis, will be required to determine a more accurate COVID-19 death count.

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Zoom is Now Worth More Than the World’s 7 Biggest Airlines


This post is by Iman Ghosh from Visual Capitalist

Zoom Is Now Worth More Than The World's 7 Biggest Airlines

Zoom Is Now Worth More Than The 7 Biggest Airlines

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have transitioned to working—and socializing—from home. If these trends become the new normal, certain companies may be in for a big payoff.

Popular video conferencing company, Zoom Communications, is a prime example of an organization benefiting from this transition. However, other industries haven’t been so lucky.

The Zoom Boom, in Perspective

As of May 15, 2020, Zoom’s market capitalization has skyrocketed to $48.8 billion, despite posting revenues of only $623 million over the past year.

What separates Zoom from its competition, and what’s led to the app’s massive surge in mainstream business culture?

zoom-search-interest

Industry analysts say that business users have been drawn to the app because of its easy-to-use interface and user experience, as well as the ability to support up to 100 participants at a time. The app has also blown up among educators for use in online learning, after CEO Eric Yuan took extra steps to ensure K-12 schools could use the platform for free.

Zoom daily users have skyrocketed in past months, going from 10 million in December 2019 to a whopping 300 million as of April 2020.

Zoom vs. Airlines stock chart

The Airline Decline

The airline industry has been on the opposite end of fortune, suffering an unprecedented plummet in demand as international restrictions have shuttered airports:

The world’s top airlines by revenue have fallen in total value by 62% since the end of January:

Airline Market Cap Jan 31, 2020  Market Cap May 15, 2020
Southwest Airlines $28.440B $14.04B
Delta $35.680B $12.30B
United $18.790B $5.867B
International Airlines Group $14.760B $4.111B
Lufthansa $7.460B $3.873B
American $11.490B $3.886B
Air France $4.681B $2.137B
Total Market Cap $121.301B $46.214B

Source: YCharts. All market capitalizations listed as of May 15, 2020.

With countries scrambling to contain the spread of COVID-19, many airlines have cut travel capacity, laid off workers, and chopped executive pay to try and stay afloat.

If and when regular air travel will return remains a major question mark, and even patient investors such as Warren Buffett have pulled out from airline stocks.

Airline % Change in Total Returns (Jan 31-May 15, 2020)
United -72.91%
International Airlines Group -72.16%
American -65.76%
Delta -65.39%
Air France -54.34%
Southwest Airlines -56.35%
Lufthansa -48.08%

Source: YCharts, as of May 15, 2020.

The world has changed for the airlines. The future is much less clear to me about how the business will turn out.

—Warren Buffett

What Does the Future Hold?

Zoom’s recent success is a product of its circumstances, but will it last? That’s a question on the mind of many investors and pundits ahead of the company’s Q1 results to be released in June.

It hasn’t been all smooth-sailing for the company—a spate of “Zoom Bombing” incidents, where uninvited people hijacked meetings, brought the app’s security measures under scrutiny. However, the company remained resilient, swiftly providing support to combat the problem.

Meanwhile, as many parts of the world begin taking measures to restart economic activity, airlines could see a cautious return to the skies—although any such recovery will surely be a “slow, long ascent”.

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Reopening Your Business In Colorado


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

Energize Colorado, working with Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), has just released business templates that offer best practices, direction, and information on how businesses can restart operations safely and effectively.

These templates are based on OEDIT’s recommendations along with input from Kroger who has been a leader in evolving better practices as an essential business.

Next week, WorkBright and Energize Colorado are doing a four-part webinar series on Reopening Your Business.

  • Part One: Let’s Keep COVID-19 Out of Your Workplace: Best practices in screening your workers and customers and how they need to be balanced with privacy and HIPAA concerns.
  • Part Two: Let’s Not Pass it Along: Learn the underlying principles of social distancing to support creation of specific guidelines for your business and industry.
  • Part Three: Let’s Plan for When it Does Happen: COVID-19 will come to virtually every business. Learn how to limit the impact and spread through your workforce.
  • Part Four: Let’s Care for Our People: Special programs to check in frequently with workers and tools to respond to what you learn.

As businesses start opening up in Colorado, we are entering a very tricky phase of the Covid crisis. I appreciate the work that the 200+ volunteers at Energize Colorado are doing to help the companies with less than 500 employees navigate things.

The post Reopening Your Business In Colorado appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Big VCs stacked billions in Q1 while smaller firms saw their haul shrink


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Alex Wilhelm. The original is [linked here]

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

After spending perhaps more time than we should have recently trying to figure out what’s going on with the public markets, let’s return to the private markets this morning, focusing in on venture capital itself. New data out today details how U.S.-based VCs fared in Q1 2020, giving us a window into how flush the financial class of startup land was heading into the COVID-19 era.

The short answer is that big funds raised lots of cash, while smaller funds appear to have put in a somewhat lackluster quarter.

That big funds performed well in Q1 shouldn’t surprise. We’ve seen NEA stack $3.6 billion in March and Founders Fund raised $3 billion for its own investing work earlier in the quarter, to pick two examples TechCrunch covered.

The impact of these mega-raises, according to a report from Prequin and First Republic Bank, was to push up the total amount of capital raised by American venture capital firms in the quarter, while the decline in the number of funds that raised $50 million or less led to a slim number of total funds raised. It’s hard to call a surge in dry powder bearish, but the fall-off on smaller funds could limit seed capital in the future.

Notably, there have been warning signs since at least 2019 that seed volume was slowing; recent data from the U.S. underscores the trend. So what we’re seeing this morning in data-form is a summation of what we’ve previously reported in a more piecemeal fashion.

Let’s pick over the data to see what we can learn about how much spare capital the venture classes are sitting on today.

The rich get richer

The whole report is worth reading if you have time. Aside from the data concerning how much money VCs are raising themselves, it includes several interesting bits of information. For example, there were just 960 venture deals closed in the U.S. in Q1 — a pace that would make 2020 the slowest year since 2009 if it held steady.

Per the listed data, 83 U.S.-based venture capitalists closed (“held a final close”) a fund in Q1 2020. This was off about 24% from the Q1 2019 result of 109. However, while the number of funds raised was lackluster, they made up for it in dollar-scale. According to Preqin and First Republic Bank, the “funds that closed raised $27 [billion], a substantial total representing over half of the capital raised in 2019 ($50 [billion]).”

Big VCs stacked billions in Q1 while smaller firms saw their haul shrink


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

After spending perhaps more time than we should have recently trying to figure out what’s going on with the public markets, let’s return to the private markets this morning, focusing in on venture capital itself. New data out today details how U.S.-based VCs fared in Q1 2020, giving us a window into how flush the financial class of startup land was heading into the COVID-19 era.

The short answer is that big funds raised lots of cash, while smaller funds appear to have put in a somewhat lackluster quarter.

That big funds performed well in Q1 shouldn’t surprise. We’ve seen NEA stack $3.6 billion in March and Founders Fund raised $3 billion for its own investing work earlier in the quarter, to pick two examples TechCrunch covered.

The impact of these mega-raises, according to a report from Prequin and First Republic Bank, was to push up the total amount of capital raised by American venture capital firms in the quarter, while the decline in the number of funds that raised $50 million or less led to a slim number of total funds raised. It’s hard to call a surge in dry powder bearish, but the fall-off on smaller funds could limit seed capital in the future.

Notably, there have been warning signs since at least 2019 that seed volume was slowing; recent data from the U.S. underscores the trend. So what we’re seeing this morning in data-form is a summation of what we’ve previously reported in a more piecemeal fashion.

Let’s pick over the data to see what we can learn about how much spare capital the venture classes are sitting on today.

The rich get richer

The whole report is worth reading if you have time. Aside from the data concerning how much money VCs are raising themselves, it includes several interesting bits of information. For example, there were just 960 venture deals closed in the U.S. in Q1 — a pace that would make 2020 the slowest year since 2009 if it held steady.

Per the listed data, 83 U.S.-based venture capitalists closed (“held a final close”) a fund in Q1 2020. This was off about 24% from the Q1 2019 result of 109. However, while the number of funds raised was lackluster, they made up for it in dollar-scale. According to Preqin and First Republic Bank, the “funds that closed raised $27 [billion], a substantial total representing over half of the capital raised in 2019 ($50 [billion]).”

Where COVID-19 is Rising and Falling Around the World


This post is by Nick Routley from Visual Capitalist

Where covid-19 is rising and falling

Where COVID-19 is Rising and Falling Around the World

It’s been just over two months since New York declared a state of emergency, and global stock markets were hammered as the fears of a full-blown crisis began to take hold.

Since then, we’ve seen detailed, daily coronavirus coverage in most of the major news outlets. With such a wealth of information available, it can be hard to keep track of the big picture of what’s happening around the world.

Today’s graphic, adapted from Information is Beautiful, is an efficient look at where the virus is fading away, and where new infection hotspots are emerging.

The Ebb and Flow of Coronavirus Cases

First, the good news: the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases has started to level off on a global basis. This metric was rising rapidly until the beginning of April — but since then, it has plateaued and is holding steady (for now).

global new covid-19 cases

Of course, the global total doesn’t tell the whole story. Different countries, and even regions within countries, are in very different phases of dealing with the pandemic.

Let’s look at the current situation around the world.

New Cases: Falling

Many of the countries that experienced early outbreaks of COVID-19 are now seeing a drop-off in the number of new cases.

countries new covid-19 cases falling

Italy, which experienced one of the most severe outbreaks, is finally emerging from the world’s longest nationwide lockdown. Switzerland and the Netherlands both had some of the highest confirmed case rates per capita, but are now in better situations as fresh cases drop off.

The narrow, pointy curves exhibited by New Zealand and Austria give us an indication of where containment measures were successful at curbing the spread of the virus. This type of pronounced curve is less common, and is generally seen in nations with smaller populations.

New Cases: Leveling Off

For many of the world’s major economies, containing the spread of the virus has proven exceptionally difficult. Despite increased testing and lockdown measures, the United States still has one of the steepest infection trajectory curves. The UK also has a very similar new case curve.

countries new covid-19 cases steady

Even as countries’ curves begin to flatten and level off, there is still a danger of new flare-ups of the virus – as is now the case in South Korea and China. Even in Singapore, which saw early success in containing the virus, is experiencing a rise in new COVID-19 cases.

New Cases: Rising

Some countries – particularly developing economies – are only in the beginning stages of facing COVID-19’s rapid spread. This is a cause for concern, as many of the countries with steeply rising curves have larger populations and fewer resources to deal with a pandemic.

countries where new covid-19 cases are rising

In late March, as the virus was spreading rapidly through Europe, Russia appeared to have avoided an outbreak within its borders. Today, however, that situation is much different. Russia has the world’s steepest infection trajectory curve, with the number of cases on a course to double roughly every five days.

The countries in the image above have a combined population of 2.8 billion people, so as COVID-19 continues to spread through those countries, the eyes of the world will be watching.

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What Day Is It?


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

Amy just walked in to our shared office (the “Library”) and said something about it being Tuesday.

It’s gloomy in Colorado today. For the past few years, the month of May has been more like Seattle weather than Colorado weather, so while spring is transitioning into summer, heavy clouds hang over us.

I seem to have two types of days right now.

Type 1 is what happens between Monday morning and Friday afternoon. Zoom call after Zoom call. Lots of exogenous stress and anxiety. By the end of each of these days, it’s hard to shrug it off as I’m absorbing so much from other people as I try to help them navigate through whatever they are working on or struggling with. There are momentary bright spots, smiles, and statements of appreciation, but they are fleeting as the 1 Minute To Next Call message appears at the top of the screen. At the end of the day, I try to run, but only feel like it a few days a week. Amy and I finish the day staring at the TV for an hour or two and then go to sleep.

Type 2 is the weekend. I stop doing meetings and email Friday night. I use Saturday to rest, recover, read, nap, and hang out with Amy. Sunday is similar, but I catch up on email, and read a bunch more.

I love to read but the only days I seem to have the energy to read are Type 2 days.

I’m going to finish out this week this way and then take a week off the grid and try to reset. As I expect we are in for a very long haul of stress and misery around the Covid crisis, it’s clear to me that Type 1 / Type 2 is not going to be a sustainable rhythm for me.

While I don’t know where I’ll land, I do know that the mental health crisis I talked about in my post The Three Crises is real. I see it and hear about it everywhere. I feel it. And I know how lucky and privileged I am, so I can only imagine how intense, pervasive, and challenging it is for others.

The post What Day Is It? appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

VCs pulled back from fintech in Q1


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

If you just read the headlines, you’d be excused for thinking that venture capital investment into financial-technology companies is at an all-time high.

Big deals this year like Plaid’s $5.3 billion dollar exit to Visa, Galileo’s $1.2 billion sale to SoFi, along with CreditKarma’s $7.1 billion deal with Intuit made for a tidy start to 2020. But despite the later-stages of fintech-focused startups seeing healthy amounts of liquidity, aggregate venture capital activity in the historically well-funded sector was light in the first quarter of 2020.

According to a new Q1 2020 report covering venture data from CB Insights, VC dollars invested in the sector fell to levels not seen since 2017, while venture deal volume in fintech fell to 2016 levels. There are any number of reasons for this pullback that you can fill in, including COVID-19 and its resulting economic impacts. But what’s even more interesting is where the money and deals did and did not go inside of the various fintech categories.

Indeed, fintech has become so complicated as a startup grouping, it’s nearly as diffuse as discussing “SaaS” companies as a cohort. Of course, fintech is a product focus while SaaS is a business model (there are fintechs that sell SaaS, to be clear), but the general point holds.

Let’s dig into the top-line data to better understand the fintech funding landscape in Q1 (TechCrunch recently spoke to VCs on their expectations for the sector today and in the future). After the high-level stuff, we’ll dig into a few notes concerning sub-sectors of particular interest, including wealth management and insurtech.

Fintech’s Q1 venture scorecard

Supporting the $1K Project


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

A month ago, Alex Iskold emailed me about a new initiative that he started with Minda Brusse and a group of 20 volunteers called the $1K Project.

The mission of the $1K Project is to help families impacted by the pandemic by connecting them directly with sponsors who are willing to gift them $1k a month for three months. This is intended as a bridge until government funding shows up, people can get back to work, or figure out another source of funding.

I committed to fund five families on the spot for three months. I just fulfilled my second set of committments to these families.

Alex told me that part of his motivation is that with all the different ways there are to gift money, families everywhere are hurting and are unable to provide food, basic necessities, rent, and utilities. Unless you know someone, it’s very hard to directly support another family you don’t know.

The magic of the $1k Project is using trusted connections to trace back to people known to the founders and other people connected to the $1k Project. Families get referred to us through friends, families, and through their former employers who are pained by having to let the employees go.

Think of it for a chain letter in CovidWorld.

If you are an employer you can nominate someone you laid off due to Covid. Alternatively, you can nominate a friend, a family member, a business owner, or someone else you know who lost their job to Covid.

In the last 30 days, over $500,000 has been given directly to families in need. Each has a story. Each has a need.

Alex and team – awesome job.

For the readers out there, if you are inspired to make a difference directly in a family’s life and you can afford $1k / month for three months, give the $1k Project a shot and sign up to be a sponsor.

The post Supporting the $1K Project appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Fintech startups amass war chests for the economic downturn


This post is by Romain Dillet from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Consumer fintech startups were massively successful in 2019, attracting millions of new users and disrupting traditional retail banks and financial services with mobile-first, consumer-oriented products. Despite the economic downturn in public markets and the massive wave of cuts at public and private companies in recent weeks, fintech startups have been raising a ton of money.

It feels like they’re all building a war chest to survive the economic winter as traditional banks continue to iterate so they can catch up and offer more user-friendly services. This is not the time to raise fees, slow down on product development or plans to acquire new users.

Nine-figure rounds

Back in January, I looked at challenger banks and their growth trajectories, but since then, they have managed to attract even more customers. According to the most recent figures:

  • Nubank has 20 million customers;
  • Revolut has 10 million users;
  • Chime has 8 million users;
  • N26 has 5 million users;
  • Monzo has 4 million users.

And that’s without mentioning Starling Bank, Atom Bank, Bunq, Bnext, Paysend, etc. At some point, there will be as many challenger banks as non-challenger banks — perhaps we shouldn’t call them challenger banks anymore.

Beyond these startups, trading app Robinhood recently reached 13 million users, international payments startup TransferWise has 7 million customers and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has 30 million users.