February 5, 2021
Hello! Today, we have some news. After almost a year of Protocol Index, we're sharpening our focus when it comes to finance. Come Feb. 16, you'll instead start receiving a newsletter from our brand-new Protocol | Fintech vertical in your inbox twice a week. Our reporters Ben Pimentel and Tomio Geron will be your guides to the people, power and politics of fintech. It's going to be amazing, and I can't wait for you to see what my colleagues have been working on. And if you want to keep reading some of my thoughts on tech and markets, I'll still be contributing to Source Code, or you can follow me on Twitter. Thanks, as always, for reading.
With that out the way, let's get into it.
Given that this is our last edition, I thought we could take a look back at some of the biggest trends we've discussed over the past year — and how they're going to factor into 2021.
The pandemic was surprisingly kind to tech. While some (myself included) initially thought the economic crash would be a disaster for the industry, we were happily proved wrong. The shift to remote work, combined with government stimulus and ultra-low interest rates, kept tech revenues and stock prices buoyant throughout the year.
Tech companies have been borrowing billions throughout the pandemic, taking advantage of those crazy-low interest rates. And that trend isn't going away.
The IPO world is still red hot. After a rush to list in the second half of last year, seemingly driven by fears that markets would take a turn for the worse, the rush just … never stopped, and the stay-private orthodoxy continues to crumble.
And you can bet Kuaishou will add fuel to the anti-IPO fire. It seems that people hate first-day pops now more than ever, and they're exploring all sorts of alternatives as a result.
But 2020's biggest IPO innovation was SPACs. The technique once reserved for unattractive companies quickly became a way for high-growth tech companies to list, thanks in part to looser regulatory requirements that let companies tout growth projections.
All of those trends, though, were dwarfed by one: the U.S.-China trade war. 2020 accelerated the fundamental realignment of the two superpowers, with consequences that could shape just about every aspect of global trade, economics and markets for generations.
In fact, "pretty similar" seems like a good way to describe just about everything. Though we've all gone through a hell of a lot in the last year, we're standing on a fairly familiar precipice. Markets are buoyant, trade wars are simmering and VCs are mad about IPOs. Maybe Alphonse Karr had it right all along.
One thing we have realized is that COVID-19 has accelerated three transformational trends that already existed before the pandemic, but are now dramatically reshaping healthcare: the concept of a networked healthcare system, the increasing adoption of telehealth, and the idea of virtual care and guidance. At the same time, we have seen consumers becoming much more engaged in their personal health and that of their families.
Thoughts/feedback/tips? Email me — email@example.com — or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading — have a great weekend.