#9A – Impact of COVID-19 in the World, Venture Capital and Start-ups

We split this episode into two parts: in this, the first part (9A), we discuss the broad implications of COVID-19, the short-term and long-term implications, how this is the “end of the world, as we know it”, but why there are many reasons to be hopeful about the future to come (recorded on April 16th). 

Look out for the second part of this episode (9B), where we will be focusing on the impact of COVID-19 in the Venture Capital and Start-up ecosystems.

Navigation:

  • Introduction (01:27)
  • Section 1 – COVID-19 – “the end of the world, as we know it” (02:36)
  • Section 2 – What the future holds (05:53)
  • Section 3 – Economic impact (12:03)
  • Section 4 – Long term impact of COVID-19 (18:41)
Our co-hosts:
  • Bertrand Schmitt, Tech Entrepreneur, co-founder and Chairman at App Annie, @bschmitt
  • Nuno Goncalves Pedro, Investor, co-Founder and Managing Partner of Strive Capital, @ngpedro
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Tech DECIPHERED brings you the Entrepreneur and Investor views on Big Tech, VC and Start-up news, opinion pieces and research. We decipher their meaning, and add inside knowledge and context. Being nerds, we also discuss the latest gadgets and pop culture news.
 

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Full transcription: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors

Intro (01:24)

Nuno: In today’s episode, we will be discussing the impact of COVID-19 and the pandemic. Specifically, we will go through an introduction. We are recording this on April 16th so the numbers that we have today, we will also talk about what the future holds.

We will be sharing the opinions of several people that we’ve been reading as well as our own opinions. We will be discussing the core assumptions economically and how the world is supposed to recover from this. We will discuss the longterm impact of COVID-19 in our own view, and how do we expect to be exiting this pandemic?

We will talk about the impact to venture capital firms in their own fundraising, in their own operations. We will discuss the impact on startups, how and where they play, their markets, their operating models, the complexities that they’re going through. And finally, we will finish with the impact on board of directors and governance in these companies. We will, be splitting this episode into two so that it is more digestible. We will not be talking about the scientific ramifications of COVID-19, we are not experts in that space and therefore we will stay away from those discussions. 

Bertrand a difficult start to this episode, it is the end of the world as we know it. The REM song is a little bit happier than this, but in some ways it is the end of the world as we know it.

Bertrand: But it is not the end of the world.  Hopefully, we are going  to grow back. It’s definitely tough times. As of today, we have more than 2 million cases, confirmed. Close to 150,000 dead. It’s really, really, big numbers. It’s amazing the change in society that have happened over the past few weeks, few months, since early January, since it was starting from Wuhan in China. Expanded to China, and then expanded step by step to the rest of the world. We saw Europe, we saw US, and many other countries are going to get even more impacted from South America to Africa.

It’s an event like you have every 50 or 100 years. So, it’s a very, specific moment in time and, a surprising timing for us launching our podcast. Nuno?

Nuno: It’s been an interesting, and by interesting, obviously we can’t really minimize the tragedy of what is going on. The stress that is basically affecting all our infrastructure hospitals, food supplies, the effect that we’re having in our own lives as people are locked down, they’re sheltered in place.

So in this episode, although we will talk about a lot of things that we hope to be hopeful about and more positive about, we did want to start  in this more somber note of acknowledging all the deaths and all the people that have been affected dramatically by the virus already, and those that still will be affected by it.

So today, everything that we will share with you is our own opinions as best informed as they are at this point in time.

Bertrand: Hopefully having both lived and worked across US, Europe and Asia, having lived in China many years, we have some level of global perspective on all of this. Myself, I’ve been following quite closely the situation since late January, since the quarantine was official  in China. 

And it gives us some perspective on where do you go next, and specifically, Asian countries went through that first,  not just through COVID-19, by the way, but through other episodes from SARS,  to MERS, to different type of epidemic in the past. So, in many ways, they were also the most prepared for this type of situation.

Nuno: And in some ways we’ve been blessed. We have people that are very good friends, even in some cases, family members, that are based in Asia, that have gone through this as the first blunt, hit China, and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback. Both of us have been very conservative in how we’ve approached mobility in the time of COVID.

We both went into shelter in place, pretty early on, actually, even before Northern California, started shelter in place. We had an interesting exchange  of devices and equipment to record the podcast at a distance already. And so I think for us, people that have connections to other parts of the world , we have treated the situation with the due respect that it deserved. And we’ve been both been in very strong shelter in place now for over four weeks.

Bertrand: Yes, definitely, I think we were probably more prepared than most. It’s not just our global perspective, perspective of China, but also the fact that  we understand numbers, or at least, we try to understand numbers. And definitely, there was a lot to be scared from the numbers coming from COVID-19. 

 

Section 2 – What the future holds (02:36)

So,  it’s time to go into our section around what’s going on, what’s going to happen on the very short term in term of shelter in place, how long will it stay there, how is life going to change around the coming few weeks or months. Again, we don’t have a crystal ball, but we will try to share some informed perspective based on what we have learned over the past few weeks, especially from other countries, and the the latest from the news.

Nuno: I think the level of preparedness that we have seen work, does command a very strong discipline around a few dimensions and we can go into them. One is the dimension around testing that testing is readily available because  if we can’t test people either for antibodies or if they’re infected, it’s very difficult to know who’s out there that’s already infecting other people.

So the ability to let people out of shelter in place depends very strongly on the testing infrastructure available to have tests and other mechanisms to make that work. So that is clearly something that we would be looking at in the case of the countries that are still in shelter in place or in lock down equivalents.

Bertrand: Yes, as you say what we have learned from Asian countries is definitely that  you have to do a lot of tests , you have to be able to track and trace, what has been happening, people who got infected. So, there is a lot of tools that have been already discussed, in some case vetted. We have just seen actually,  recently Google and Apple, working together to build better apps, to help track, who you met through your smart phone using Bluetooth connections.

I think there has been quite a few weeks where it was not really clear where we were going. But it’s starting to be more and more clear what would be the criteria to reopen states and countries. And not just by looking at what Asian countries have done, but by listening to what our governments are telling us right now across Europe or in the US.

We just have actually today, President Trump talking about opening up America again,  sharing guidance of what states should we looking at, when they decide to reopen. What different level of opening you could do: a phase one, a phase two, a phase three. And we have seen similar things in France, in Europe. With many countries trying to put a date around, sometimes in May, sometimes in June. I think no one is really sure. Governments who give you precise dates are probably,  either wrong or trying to just share their best estimate.

I think what is key is understand this criterias and what it means. And therefore, you would get a better understanding of: will this state potentially change, get delayed. And that will help you make the right business decision.

I think another piece that is quite key is to understand what means reopening, leaving a shelter in place. It doesn’t mean we go from black to white, in a minute. It will be a gradual release. And if things go wrong, and I’m sure they will go wrong in some states and countries, there will be some level of rollback to some previous measures.

And that will be some things to be very careful in term of our understanding of where we might end up because all of these parameters might change, might be readjusted. And might depend  on decisions by state, by countries. All will have their own approach to manage this. And some might be doing it really well, some  might have some more issues. Some might try to favor a lot more personal freedoms, some might not care as much about that. So, there will be different roadmaps by different countries. And we need to acknowledge that.

And maybe a last point is that, obviously, what’s going to give us our full freedom back again is getting access to either extremely good treatment that limit the level of pain and death we get from that virus, and ultimately having a good vaccine. I think it’s pretty clear for everyone following this, that’s really the criteria  to going back to true normal.

What we are going to experience in a few weeks will be a new normal. A very different normal than what we are used to. But the real back to normal, we are probably talking about sometime in 2021, and it’s really difficult to be more precise at this stage until we understand what’s working, what’s not working in terms of medication and vaccine. 

Nuno: Very good. So, if I summarize a little bit of what you said, a couple of important points. One the notion of testing, two the notion of track and traceability, the ability to track people and to know where they’ve been and how they’re moving. And then a lot of notion around enforcing mobility,  enforcing certain rules in a staged manner.

I do think we’re not going to go back to a normal, this normal is going to be a different normal.  We’ll talk about it in sort of long term scenarios in a bit. So I won’t to advance that discussion at this stage, but certainly, my belief is that in Northern California, for example right now the assumption is that we would be in shelter in place until May 3rd.  I think it will be prolonged.  I think we’ll be in some sort of shelter in place until at least June.  And we will see what happens after that. There will be a staged approach to this, I’m pretty sure by most States, by a lot of countries.

And if we look at where do we end after all of this? The interesting piece for me is: it’s still very unclear what the bounce back will be: the reinfection,  how people will interact with each other. And so for me, that is one of the most interesting aspects here. This will fundamentally change humanity and how we interact.

Again, we will talk about that in the next section or in the next two sections.  But for me, that’s the interesting piece of this: the behaviors that we have today certainly will not be the behaviors that we will have in the next six months to 18 months.  

Bertrand: And actually after 18 months of these uncertainties, there’s also a bigger question around: we talked about going back to the normal we were used to, but will it even be the case? Will it even be the case because,  as we can see, we start to do a lot more work from home … We have changed our habits. When you change your habits for 6, 12, 18 months, and not just you but everybody around you, where we start to have a different approach to life: what do we want to do during our vacation? Do we want to do less travel, more travel? Do you want to keep working from home, or we just hated it so [laughs] much that we want to go back to the office as fast as we can?

I don’t think I have answers to this. What I know is that there are a lot of big question mark, and that will shape,  what will be successful in the coming decade in terms of startups, technologies, business models, and verticals.

 

Section 3 – Economic Impact (12:03)

So, I think, to better understand where we are going, we need to have a bit of sense of where the economy’s going to be. So, again, we have some assumption around when do we leave shelter in place. What does it mean to leave shutdown in place? 

If I’m looking at, for instance, initiative from the White House, phase one means you still work from home and schools are not yet reopened. If I look at phase two, schools might start to reopen, but you still work from home, at least, if you can work from home. It’s only in phase three that it’s okay to go back to the office if you did not require physical presence at the office. 

So it’s clear that there are some change in how we are going to work, and not just for a few weeks, but for longer than that. So as a result, economists have started to plan what does it mean for the economy.

Nuno:    I was just gonna say that right now governments are stepping back and going into planning mode, into waterfall mode as I’m calling it, but in effect, as we’ve seen in several of the markets that have come out of it, this will go back to agile at certain point in time, it will go back to block and tackling. So as many plan as they can do in terms of phasing and what’s next, we’ve seen a lot of variables take everything out of the game, and move the whole game to a different dimension. So in some ways, it’s interesting that finally governments are planning and saying, these are the stages we’d probably gonna go through.

From what I know, the announcement today by President Trump, is very similar to that made by several governors, in the States that had early, shelters in place. So that’s, good alignment.  I suspect that we will end up in a very different place, that this will become agile pretty quickly and the waterfall will go down the drain somewhere down the road, which is not necessarily a bad thing because, what we’ve learned through this is we need to adapt really quickly our processes and we need to really ramp up things pretty quickly.

Bertrand: I think they actually acknowledged that each State will make decisions themselves. And each state will probably make a county by county, type of decision as well. We have seen in California, for instance the Bay Area, multiple counties went together to try to build a common response. We might also see coordination across states. We have seen discussions around West Coast states, East Coast states.  So I think we will see different approaches. But that’s true having a high-level game plan can help a lot better understand each other. There will be a lot of confusion, people will not know where do they stand, that will be pretty painful. So I think it’s good to have that overarching framework. But I agree with you, it will be very, very quickly  in an agile mode.

If we go back into the economy. So, one thing is be worried about these economic predictions, because everything I’ve seen over the past two months kept changing. Initially, there was no admission from the EU, from the IMF, from the US, that what was happening in China, would change the economic  targets for 2020 by more than a decimal point. 

That’s just two months ago. When you think about it, it’s crazy. I remember thinking, ” it’s crazy”, these guys don’t really get what it means when China is in trouble, and two, it was making a very interesting assumption that the virus will have borders, which obviously it didn’t.

So when we look at the last predictions.  What we can see today, is that a lot of experts are predicting 20, 30, 35% GDP decrease in the US in Q2, probably something similar in Europe. After that, it becomes more muddy because you don’t know what it will look like Q3, precise enough. So Q3, Q4, it starts to be a lot of hope. So, depending on what you put in your model there, it will have an impact for your estimates for 2020.

One of the most recent numbers was coming from the IMF is predicting a global contraction of 3%  in 2020. To give you some perspective, there was barely, going to zero in 2009.  We are talking about levels of World War Two. So you have to go back not 10 or 20 years, but 70 years or 100 years to see any  level of similar economic impact. And that’s, I would tend to believe,  estimates that are probably relatively optimistic.

Nuno: This is definitely the most dramatic economic crisis of our time. I would actually say it’s likely going to be the most dramatic economic crisis of any measurable time, of anytime that we have measurements for. And in terms of the shape for recovery, I know there’s a lot of different views out there.

Is it gonna be yoyo? Is it going to be a V shaped? Is it going to be U  shaped?

Bertrand: I like the Nike shape.

Nuno: The Nike shape, the “swoosh”, I am not macroeconomist. Neither are you Bertrand. My best guess is this is going to be a “U” shape, but a funky U shaped recovery where there will be a strong recovery once things, start going back into a productive mode that is more closer to our previous normal,  but it will take a long time to then really recovered from where we were. It is clear that we were in one of the strongest ever equity markets,  in the world. And therefore being at the top of the play and now dropping dramatically with this black Swan event, the recovery will take its time for sure.

I believe also that the economic recovery will be very different from markets to markets. If we look at the economic recovery in China, which is already starting to happen, it will, I think, give us some indications on what happens when industrial policy steps in, when consumption’s incentivized, et cetera, et cetera. So for me, that is an interesting thing to look at. 

But the real, real challenge, certainly in Western economies, is going to be when certain Western markets have seemed to have really behaved in a better way in terms of their public policy response to COVID . How those markets start stepping in and how those markets start basically going to the next level.

Germany for me is actually a really, really good and important market to look at in terms of economic recovery. It’s a market that has done that incredibly well in policy, in dealing with this pandemic, and it is going to be interesting to see how they really come out of this.

Bertrand: And they just announced some plans to reopen some part of the economy relatively soon actually. You talked about China , what was interesting was to read some of these articles late March where suddenly the economy was back. People started to be back for work. And when we say back, we are talking about 80, 90%, not  100%. But still pretty good versus what February was.

And then just after being back a few weeks to some level of normalcy, suddenly, the lack of demand from the West, from other countries started to impact. So, factories that were reopening certainly were questioning what our true level of staffing needs to be, because it looks like going back to normal for staffing doesn’t make sense if Europe is not buying, if US is not buying.

And obviously, Europe and US are still buying, but especially on the medical side. So China might go back to some level of normalcy on the health care side of their population. But economically , it might start to already be impacted by other economies.  

 

Section 4 – Long term impact of COVID-19 (18:41)

Nuno: And this is maybe a really good segue into talking about the long term impact of COVID into our lives, into the economies of the world, into countries. 

Starting with a blindingly obvious. Services industry will never be the same. And looking at what’s happened to restaurants, hotels, where in effect we’re in the middle of Armageddon. This is the Armageddon of hotels and restaurants, and a really sad one. This is the time where there will need to be a fundamental reinvention. We saw this in China, just looking at the recovery of China when people getting out of  shelter in place.

Restaurants were the ones that were having the most difficulty to recover, take out was available, but people were really shying away from going to restaurants. So the world that we are going into, the world that we will move into, on the services side if we look in particular at a sub sectors, like again, restaurants, hotels, traveling will be deeply affected.

My strong belief is that business travel will never be the same. There will be a much higher bar to business travel going forward for any company of any dimension. People will not be traveling as much as they do right now . 

And you have alluded already to this, what will happen to work from home? What will happen for working remotely. We’ve now seen that we can actually be productive working from home. In some ways, we can sometimes even be more productive working from home.  I believe both you and I have felt that the last few weeks have been incredibly productive. We get to work. We don’t need to commute. We don’t need to move context all the time. In terms of the location we’re in. 

So for me, business travel is going to change dramatically. Working from home is the new reality. People will be working more and more remotely, and this will be a wildly accepted reality of the world going forward.

Bertrand: Yes, I totally agree with you Nuno that there are big changes happening and we always have to think carefully, “okay what will be the change for the next 3 months, 12 months, beyond a vaccine?” basically. That’s really for me, the milestone I have in my mind, because that’s when people will be less scared. But again, you don’t go through these months of stress  without scars, and without changing your habits, and without having discovered, as you say, that some stuff are actually not so bad, like working from home.

In term of big shift also that we should talk before going too fast  into tech, it’s clear that energy is getting cheaper.  We have seen that there is less demand, and yes they tried to decrease supply in parallel, but we saw it was not a smooth process. Russia, Saudi Arabia, we were definitely for a few weeks in an oil war.  It might come back. It’s a better place now, but it might come back. So, cheap energy, that will raise a lot of questions, because when suddenly energy is cheap, a lot of analysis on how you produce energy is changing, because you compare everything to price of oil.

Another part is, what will be the reaction of some countries, vis-a-vis China, and their dependence to China? It’s clear that in Europe, in the US, there is review of, “Hey, should we depend on some other countries for,  our healthcare, for healthcare supplies, for our medicines, for our protective equipments?” I  would expect most countries to decide, “We need to have, that back either in our country, or at least at a regional, level.” expecting you depend on critical life,  sustaining stuff from countries on the other side of the globe, I think that, that will change. another thing is- Yeah. [laughs], yes [inaudible globe, I think that will change.    

Nuno: Actually, I disagree with you on that. think there is now this nationalistic feeling we need to control production. We need to control factories. We need to make sure that we have vital supplies.

I think the vital supply piece is definitely important. I need to make sure that I have enough reserves of medication, of equipment that is needed for our doctors, for our nurses in place. And have those reserves really ready to go. Something that is happening right now, there’s a lot of political gamuts here where we see countries saying, well, China shouldn’t be the factory of the world, it’s too centralized. Well, it’s actually not that bad that. China is the factory of the world because China recovered pretty quickly and it’s back into production. And in some ways, I don’t know how many countries how long they will take to go back into becoming a factory, even for themselves in an environment where they would control their own production.

So, I think right now there’s a lot of political gaming and a lot of discussions and sort of pointing fingers, and we need to take the central piece out of that. One, there’s the fact that just taking away so much production, so much supply out of China into other markets would take a really, really long time.

It’s not something you do overnight. And two, even if you wanted to do it, would that make sense or not? With economies of scale that we know that the factory of world that China is, currently has. So I know there’s a lot of debate. I know there’s a lot of political, throwing stones at each other right now.

Obviously a world where there will be a lot more planning, where there might be a little bit more advent of local and regional industry. But at the same time, I don’t see a world that changes the “China as factory of the world” dimension

Bertrand: Sorry to be clear, I was just talking about the medical side. So the same way that the US, or Europe don’t depend on China for defense industry, I think we will see a new perspective on depending on China on the healthcare industry side. 

So, I don’t think beyond medical and healthcare, it will go much beyond  the process we were in, and we have to remember that US was trying to shake things up in general. But my take is that China  in term of center of medical supplies, will probably change for at least the US, and Europe, and Japan, and a few Asian countries. Beyond medical, I don’t know, we will see.

To go beyond that , what might change?  Definitely there are a lot of questions, if you take movies for instance,  no theaters release anymore for maybe months. We see movie companies, production companies pitching desperately their movies to a Netflix and others because right now they are making no money, and they cannot keep it going that way. We have seen theater release going to iTunes directly, at price that personally I felt were crazy by the way, paying $20 for a rental, I was not happy to do that, and I decided not to do that.

And there are other questions: education, what happens for kids that were supposed to graduate this year, how do you prepare next year?  Will September, start of school be possible? Some are saying, possible in June actually. So, education, online education is going to dramatically change, and it’s acceptance.

Another piece is of course healthcare. We have seen that. I have myself had to do a telehealth discussion with my doctor, we had an issue with our daughter, and basically it was not possible to do that before. You couldn’t, do it. And so, just to be clear, the experience was not so great, given the software was barely working . I guess that’s to be expected in some industries, they have trouble to pick the right technologies and tools, but this will change over time, and I’m very excited, and I really hope that Pandora box has been opened in a way it will not close back. Let’s not forget in the US you have some crazy rules where doctors cannot work in one state, and provide advice in another state, that were big constraints for remote medicine. That has changed, now they can.

So I definitely hope the genie won’t be put back in the bottle, because that’s good for everyone. And actually I’ve been amazed to see all this changes that were supposed to take years, if not a decade, possible in weeks. And I hope it will be a lesson, that, yes, things can move fast, if you stop the bullshit.  I’m just sad it took a pandemic to get there.

Nuno: I think this is the most force digitization that anyone could ever imagine, and it was by mere accident, but it has forced all the players, all the industries that were stuck in their own rules stuck into defensive regulations like the healthcare industry and the payer provider industry in healthcare in particular.

It just basically got overnight pushed to become digitized, and some of these players are struggling because they’re not ready at all. Others are doing very well. For me, the interesting piece of what’s happening with this very tragic situation of the pandemic is the world is going digital by nature.

There’s no other way back from this. The way we’re interacting today is more and more digital across our consumption, even a physical means of getting groceries into our house, of giving food, of, talking to a doctor, of talking to a nurse, for reasons that are obvious. For me, there’s even one more interesting aspect to what’s happening today and this forcing mechanism that COVID has given us, the post-COVID stage of the world, which is the home is becoming a significant hub.

And it’s becoming a hub for wellbeing and fitness. It’s becoming a hub for entertainment and media. It’s becoming a hub for education. It’s becoming a hub for work. The home is also changing, so we’ve been talking about smart homes, internet of things. We’ve been talking about these things for such a long time, and finally they’re coming from fruition because people are changing the way they interact, because people need to change the way they live their lives. And so for me, the fascinating, really positive side effect of this whole tragedy is that the world is becoming digital. And there’s no way back. This is sort of the point of no return. We’ve now seen that we have to be autonomous in a world that at some point, takes away the right for us to be outside, the right for us to interact with other people.

Bertrand: And not to be too negative, but when you think about it, it’s not just about our crisis today, Covid-19, and solving it on the short term, with new medicines, with a vaccine. It’s also to be prepared for the next one. And I see two ways to be prepared for the next one. One is dramatic change in how we approach medicine, and a true focus on getting rid of virus once and for all, and having way better tools to react much faster. So dramatic Manhattan project style, to be way more prepared for the next virus, because it will come. Is it 5, 10, or 20 years, I have obviously no idea. But all what created this crisis, the fact that we are more international, the fact that we are more global, that we are 7 billion people on earth, it’s not changing. It’s not changing overnight. So, the sources of this risk for virus, and pandemic, are not changing, so we’ll have more of it.

So, hopefully, not just we are going to make right investment in healthcare, but also we are going to recognize we need to be ready for the next one, and the way to be ready will not be to conveniently put back the genie in the bottle, I really hope not, but actually to try to keep investing in this change. To make sure that they are there for the long term, so that everyone  is ready for a new situation, so when the next one come, we are in a better place to deal with it. We have the right apps to track, we have our delivery organized, we have the supply chain organized, we know how to work online, we have all better cameras, better mics, better systems to basically  live this life.

I’m not saying I want to live this life by default, but I think we will have to be ready, and in a way, cut the past, let go of the past once and for all, and say, “You know what? This is a risky way, and we should be done with it.”   I don’t want to make people afraid of what’s next,  I’m not afraid, but I think we need to think, and plan ahead , and definitely not play the game we have been playing the past decades  knowing there is a risk, but not planning for it, at least for most countries.

Nuno: Bertrand what you just said, I think is all very positive in some ways and just picking up on it,  there’s an even more positive side effect that I see out of COVID, which is really how we as humanity, and I don’t want to be too spiritual about this, this is not what we normally talk about we talk about tech, but maybe it is a time to take a little bit of respite and calm down and say, you know what? This is good. Because now I know that the people that pack stuff at supermarkets, the people that do the work that I don’t see everyday, the people that bring stuff to me, they’re vital. Because without these people, I would not survive.

Now I know that people that are doctors, nurses, people that are technicians at hospitals, cleaning staff, that their work is incredibly valuable. And if  they weren’t there, this would be much worse.  I do think there is a notion of humanity in how we are actually acting with each other that is fundamental, and that will never be the same. That will change forever. And so I’m very hopeful that we come out of this better as United States of America, Northern California, the world.

Bertrand: Yes, and I want to add on that, that I have been very angry when I saw some reaction of some corporations, or governments, that basically put the very people you talk about, health workers, people doing groceries, at risk. When I kept reading articles of health workers who complain because they don’t have the right protective equipment, that they end up getting fired because of that. When you are putting these people on the line to risk their life. When you see the percentage of health workers  who got the virus, I’m reading some stats, we are talking about 20% plus, in some hotspots, this is crazy, I these people are putting their life for us, and we are not giving them the right equipment, and if they dare to complain we are going to fire them. How on earth is it possible to do that, and I seriously hope, there will be some serious introspection and more than that .

When I was reading some corporations  were forbidding employees to wear masks, or to have gloves in grocery stores, because they could scare customers, can you imagine that? I was so shocked . And personally it was very clear for me that you better wear masks, I was not waiting for these regulations to come up. I know that mask are important and helpful, you just need to see what Asia was doing.  

Nuno: I agree with everything you just said, but at the same time, things have changed and we the people, we don’t take that anymore, and we’ve seen the backlash that many of these companies, many of these organizations have had for these behaviors. 

We’ve seen something that is even more profound coming out of it, which is people actually filling the gaps that governments can’t fill and creating syndicates to buy masks and get them to hospitals and producing basically masks for their friends.

It’s incredible I think what we’ve seen. I’ve become a really big fan of “some good news” SGN by John Krasinski, who I think got it right, is like: enough bad news, enough COVID, if we’re going to talk about COVID, let’s talk about COVID in a positive manner. And it’s a really beautiful, you know, rainbow in my week, every time I watched the new episode of some good news.

But it’s more profound than this. People are now very thoughtful on how they look at other people. When we’re giving a tip to an Instacart delivery person, I’ve heard some bad behaviors by people in some parts of Northern California, but in general, I am sure that most people now think two or three times can’t I give more of a tip, because they probably need it and this person is doing something that is vital to me. So, again, I understand where you’re coming from. I agree with what you said. But at the end of the day, the momentum we have as a society, we should use it. This is a good time for us as human beings to become better and to care more about each other, not the time to care less.

Bertrand: Absolutely, thanks Nuno for concluding this first part of Episode 9 on a note of hope about humanity.

Please look out for the 2nd part of episode 9, episode 9B, where we will be focusing on the impact of COVID-19 in the Venture Capital and Start-up ecosystems. See you next time.