May 28, 2020
Image: Rehab Center Parus, Wikimedia Commons
Good morning! This Thursday, health care experts don't think a vaccine's coming for a while, Resy's CEO thinks restaurants will get assertive about delivery fees, and tech billionaires are annoying politicians. Want Index in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.
Also, I owe you an apology: Some of you might have received yesterday's Index twice, thanks to a glitch with our systems. I'm very sorry, and will make sure it doesn't happen again. Anyway — on with the news!
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Ben Leventhal, the founder of Eater and CEO of Resy, is in a pretty weird situation right now: He turned off his revenue. Resy, which charges restaurants a subscription fee for its online booking software, has waived all fees for the rest of the year amid absolute carnage in the restaurant industry. That's a huge hit to Resy's business, but Leventhal says "it was frankly never a question."
"There will be a contraction of this industry, there's no question about it," Leventhal said, though he said he doesn't know how bad it will be. Coming out of this, he thinks restaurants will diversify their revenue streams away from meals, offering "chef experiences, meal kits, cooking lessons" to make up for reduced sit-in diners.
Food delivery is one area where things might change a lot, he thinks.
We also talked about the role of tech in the restaurant industry, and how Resy is moving forward in such an uncertain time: Check out the full conversation on Protocol.
Everyone has an opinion about the coronavirus outlook, but some opinions are worth a little more than others. Helpfully, health-focused VC firm Venrock has spent the last few months surveying health care experts on what they think — and the results are pretty sobering.
The differing expectations extend to the economic fallout, too. "Something like half the people [surveyed] think there will be two waves of shelter in place," Roberts said, "and a third of people are expecting three waves."
That shouldn't affect early-stage funding though, he said.
If you're thinking of pitching Venrock, Roberts is looking for a particular type of company.
Recode had a great story yesterday on how tech billionaires are trying to help Democrats win the election, with tons of funding flooding into new think tanks, data efforts, and media outlets. Here's a quote from Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, that'll be familiar to anyone who works in tech-disrupted industries: "My problem is when Silicon Valley folks think that they know how to do our jobs better." Interestingly, Kleeb thinks Reid Hoffman is particularly "arrogant" — but she likes STAC Labs, an Eric Schmidt-backed organization that teaches parties how to use data effectively.