#12 – The coming decade in tech, the 2020s, and its impact on the world we live in – Part 2

In this episode, the second part of our discussion on the 2020s, we will use our scenario planning methodology to project forward into the latter part of the 2020 decade, so that we can deep-dive into the future of Energy & Climate Change, Healthcare, Education, Financial Services, Retail & Commerce, Leisure & Entertainment and Social & Communication. 

Please also listen to our previous episode 11, where we started our time traveling and discussed the Macro landscape – both Governmental/Geopolitical and Non-Governmental, and also User Paradigms around Work, Home and Mobility.

Join us for our next episode, episode 13, which will conclude our “Time Travel Trilogy” of the 2020 decade, by delving into Next Platforms & Tech, Venture capital & Start-ups and an overall framing of the 2020s. 

Navigation:

  • Introduction (01:24)
  • Section 1 – Energy & Climate Change (02:03)
  • Section 2 – Healthcare (06:30)
  • Section 3 – Education (10:06)
  • Section 4 – Financial Services (14:49)
  • Section 5 – Retail & Commerce (18:13)
  • Section 6 – Leisure & Entertainment (25:26)
  • Section 7 – Social & Communication (41:18)
  • Conclusion (47:13)
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
Our show:
 
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)

Bertrand: Welcome back to Tech Deciphered episode 12 on the 2020s. 

If you remember our previous episode, episode 11, we started talking about the 2020s, our view about the next decade. Trying to do some scenario planning, trying to project what are the  possible scenarios in 10 years from now of where the world will be. Where some technologies will be. Where some consumer habits will be, and try to walk back from that perspective  and think carefully about what it means and how it could happen or not happen. And obviously, share our opinions of the most likely  scenarios.

Section 1 – Energy & Climate Change (02:03)

Nuno: And we will start today with energy and climate change. I’m generally optimistic about the discussion around climate change coming out of this shelter in place and lockdowns that we’ve had around the world. Where people are seeing the effects that we actually have on the environment, and those effects are very obvious.

You know, we’ve taken a little bit of pause. There’s a reduction in pollution, and we see the world changes around us. So the momentum, I believe for climate change after this will be a positive one. Just by the nature of what we’re observing. There will be two negative levers to this. the first lever that will be negative is the fact that we need to have an economic recovery.

And at this moment in time, that economic recovery needs to be fast. So we need to start moving and we need to start moving even faster. In some ways, that will generate probably the impetus for certain governments and certain corporations to more aggressive about manufacturing, logistics and things that we know are implicitly creating pollution.

And then the second piece that is negative to this climate change agenda, and us obviously adopting more renewable energies, better technologies, and everything that would make this world that we’re currently in, in lockdown, more sustainable into the future is the fact that obviously the price of oil has come down plummeting to levels never seen before. And so it’s actually very, very cheap. 

So those are the two forces that I believe we’re having infighting on. There’s many other forces we could have around this, we discussed in the previous episode: the notion around the hermit scenario, or it’s certainly the notion that we will spend a lot more time in our homes and in suburban lives, but still then we’ll need mobility.

So where will we end up on energy? Where will climate change be? Will we finally reverse climate change? Will we have a shot at it in this decade? Will this be the grand decade that we all get better energy, more technology aware energy.

Bertrand: Yes, me, I might have an unpopular opinion on this topic. I felt governments of the world were very, very, very, very focused on climate change, trillions of dollars invested. Honestly, not so much to show for it, and very obviously, a complete total miss on some things that was relatively highly probable, which is the emergence of a pandemic. Very, very little spent, nearly nothing. If we talk about bio-defense investment, it was close to zero by most countries in the world. So, for me it raises a few questions: ultimately, it’s a choice between what you decide is the most important.

And the other piece that has always worried me is the solution. When your solution to climate change is to close nuclear energy stations, and replace that by what?  By renewable energies? Solutions that are either too expensive or cannot power enough, or are not always available when you need them. That’s really a big issue I have. And when you see countries that are polluting more as a result of their energy policy, for instance by using way more coal than before I am very worried.

If we cannot pick the rational technological solutions, it’s pretty worrisome to me. So one hope I have is that we finally invest more, in the right solution, which is more nuclear. Maybe different type of nuclear, but more of it, not less of it. Then I will start to be excited again about trying to solve this. But as long as we have some very, very weird strange policies, I just start to wonder, what is it that we are trying to really solve.  

Nuno: We have full agreement on the fact that we will need to re-explore nuclear as a core source of energy. And that’s probably one of the very few paths, going forward that allows to us to be more clean in some ways in consumption. 

Bertrand and I have disagreements around the importance of tackling climate change, et cetera. For me, this is two sides of the same coin. What we’re seeing with the virus is also what we’ve been seeing with climate change is our mistreatment of the place we live in, is the mistreatment of the place of earth effectively. So we were getting kicked because we just misappropriate assets that were here, and we just think it’s all ours because obviously we are the overlords and we control all of this.

I do think, you know, climate change needs to still be tackled, agree that nuclear and other options are important for us to move forward. But we will always have this disagreement. 

Section 2 – Healthcare (06:30)

So maybe let’s move to a topic where we have more agreement, which is healthcare. And it can never be the same. Let’s start with that. 

Healthcare can never be the same, we both live in the US where the system is totally broken, where regulations are now being suspended, we discussed that in a previous episode. So healthcare needs to fundamentally shift. Remote health and telemedicine are a given. There’s no scenario I see going forward, telemedicine or remote health are not part of that scenario. Remote diagnostics and ways of doing diagnostics at a distance are more important than ever. You’ve already talked about bio defense, and maybe you want to go into that too  in a little bit. 

All the effects that we’ve had around the supply chain and pharmaceuticals, PPEs. Everything that is happening in the genetic space needs  to actually accelerate. I predict  a golden age of health care going forward  and pharma because we need to, we need to be prepared for whatever’s next. We need to be prepared for the next pandemic.

Bertrand: Healthcare it’s fantastic when you think about it. The first thing we have to do in this crisis is to throw up decades of stupid regulations that were slowing down the pace of innovation. And not just slowing down by six months, slowing down by a decade some development of new medicines, some development of remote health. This is pretty insane. And I mean, when you think about how easy it was to remove that , but it’s also shocking. Let’s not forget the other side of that coin, is that these regulations were not there for the right reason in many situations.

Of course, you want some level of regulation, but my point is that, we went so overboard, we didn’t care in a way if medicine had any impact on people anymore. What matter is that everyone would be as safe as possible in the sense that there is never an issue, there is never a risk for anyone, the patient, the, the doctors, the pharmaceutical companies, and as a result we  killed innovation. We destroyed innovation for the past 10, 20, 30 years, no one wanted to build vaccines anymore because there is just a little gain and too much risk in term of getting sued if there is an issue with your vaccine.

So my point is that, this world was completely, completely broken in so many ways. And what has been happening the past few weeks and months has shown that. To be clear, I believe strongly and very thankful about all the doctors, who have been saving life, and nurses and technicians. I just feel they have been constrained in an horrible system designed by politicians and administrators, who don’t invest in change, are actually trying to slow things down for all the wrong reasons.

So when you think that, you talk about the U.S.,  medications are 3X the price than Canada or Europe for the same medications. So we’ll see what change. 

Maybe one more point  because we talk about a lot of very important topics, but there are a lot of other stuff super exciting happening  in healthcare, from understanding more the impact of genetics, to modifying your own genetics through technologies like CRISPR. So there are a lot of other topics that might be super exciting. And hopefully, who knows? By removing layers after layers of regulation in healthcare, because suddenly we’re all terrified about what might happen next. And do we have the right tool to save our cities and our lives? Maybe these regulations disappear and we see a dramatic change in the pace of innovation  in medicine, that I think has slow down the past 30 years. 

Nuno: So healthcare, we agree, disruption and golden Age, both at the same time, both hand in hand. 

Section 3 – Education (10:06)

Let’s move to education. Clearly an industry that’s being, under shock, everything from kindergarten to 12th grade, universities. What will be the value of this education in particular in the US, when we look at what’s the cost of education anywhere from kindergarten to university, because you have access to certain teachers, certain professors, certain facilities, libraries, et cetera.

And I would say actually the story so far is not a very positive one. Remote education is under extreme pressure, taking a sample of people that I’ve talked to in various parts of the US and the world,  the ability that they have  to have their kids being educated while they’re at home, is on average, very poor. There are some exceptions to this, of course, but it’s on average, very poor. Will we see the advent of home education and by nature remote education where I’ve access to the best teachers in the world from the place that I’m in. And then I get home education either from my parents or from, people around me, is there a fundamental way that this shifts going forward or not, what will be the value of having gone to Stanford or Wharton like you and I have gone to Bertrand? 

What will be  the value of going to an Ecole Polytechnique in France or whatever. Going forward is it just that we’re going to have unbundled education and that would fit into the future of work that we discussed in the previous episode, where professors will lead the way and will have their own pods, so to speak, that they’ll bring to the table.

And if you want to have access to me, you subscribed to me, or you pay for me, and we’re gonna have a bunch of free agents running around. What’s the value of this going forward? Clearly this is ready for disruption, but it’s been very badly disrupted. We’re clearly very badly prepared for this.

Bertrand: Great point. I don’t think I have all the answers, but there are some stuff that are actually broken. If I take the U.S., for instance, to have to pay $200K-plus, to get your undergrad degree or your MBA, or to spend $500K-plus to get a medical education , that cannot keep working like this. I mean, there has been a very big disconnect between the increase in the cost of education versus inflation. So people cannot afford what they once could afford. And at some point this has to change.

And I think what’s happening right now, where people are forced to do some more remote education. But another thing is happening. People are not coming to America anymore. People are not looking to move to America anymore. And there was already a trend there, but this trend is accelerating because of all the policies that have happened in the past few years. But also now you cannot even take a plane and go fly to another country or come to the U.S. without going to quarantine and all the like.

And if you come here for education,  you cannot stay here because you are not guaranteed anymore the ability to stay to find a first work or the like. And I’m saying that because the American education system, at least post undergrad, is dependent on foreign students 50%-plus. 50%. So, if suddenly you don’t have foreigners coming to the U.S., it’s the end of the post graduate school system.

So for me, this is a, big one. Sorry, you were coming from kindergarten and I was coming from the other side. For me what is clear is that most of the schools,  you are a young kid or if you’re a teenager, are not designed and adapted for remote work so well. It might get better once the user writes software or when the right software rise up, but I’m not a super big believer at such a young age. 

But I think starting with undergrad, it’s raising a lot of questions. I was just seeing that in the UK, some very prestigious universities already announced to students that all their bigger classes with small students are over.

It will be at least for next year, fully remote. And it will be only the one-to-one interaction, one-to-few interactions that will stay in physical. I think when you start doing that, you start to question, why am I spending so much money? And I don’t think it will stop next year. I think it will be there for the long run, so I’m expecting dramatic change at least in higher education. And to be clear, I respect a lot some of these professors I’ve met at some of the top schools I’ve been lucky enough to go to, but in a way, I’m also hopeful that whatever they teach can be teached to way more people at once. Not just to a few.

Section 4 – Financial services (14:49)

Nuno: Moving to the financial sector and what will happen to that. The death of cash seemed to be predicted for a very long time. It’s probably true that we’re going to see a significant reduction in the cash economies. There are some good effects of that. There might be leapfrogging in markets that’s still highly depend on cash, where governments will potentially even deregulate some of these spaces.

And we might end up, in one of the scenarios, in a world that is cashless, where everything is at a distance, we even talk about touch payment, but it’s like NFC type payment. You don’t actually need to touch.

Bertrand: Why should I touch?

Nuno: You don’t actually touch. And in a world where we have economies that have really been moved by cash, that’s all of a sudden start being moved, by currencies.

So that’s certainly one potential and strong scenario. 

In that scenario, there’s maybe a variation in that scenario or an alternative scenario where we have a discussion around currencies and what’s the role of currencies we discussed in episode 11, that the dollar would still, I believe you Bertrand said, the dollar would likely still be the currency of choice or potentially the currency of choice.

We shall see what actually happens and whether maybe it’s not the dollar versus the Chinese Yuan or RMB as they call it. It might be that it’s the dollar versus digital currency of some sort. It might be that we have the emergence of new currencies, when we talk a lot about cryptocurrencies, et cetera, but let’s call it a digital currency that is pushed by a government or a number of governments or central banks as a way and an alternative to make this world more seamless, this transition from cash more seamless into the digital world. So that scenario is also a possible one. 

I foresee there’s going to be disruption certainly in how people settle payments between themselves and how things are paid for and all these interactions that go well beyond hygiene.

So really interesting to see the financial sector and how it will evolve over this decade.

Bertrand: Yes, I would definitely bet on the death of cash. I mean, that’s honestly what happened in some countries in Asia, like China in the past 10 years. So to think that, especially with COVID, we don’t go there in the Western world, Europe, U.S., would really shock me. In many ways, the U.S., one of the slowest to adopt that. I still receive checks or I’m still being asked to pay some stuff by checks. So  it’s really crazy. but I see that changing pretty fast, because now there is that pressure, thanks to COVID in a way. People are scared to touch cash. 

So I would expect that to move very fast or much faster than without and hopefully, end of cash by end of that decade. 

On the currency side, I think that there are two ways to look at it. If we talk about cryptocurrency as a replacement for the state control of the currency, I absolutely don’t believe that to happen in the next 10 or even 20 years. No way. I think governments have shown once again that they need to control the printing of money. If they don’t control that, that’s game over in any crisis situation – manufactured by them or not. You need to control your money. So I think governments might be actually even stronger against cryptocurrency. I think ultimately, what would be accepted is stuff that makes things more efficient, but that control of the state on the printing of money is not going to change in the next 10 years. Far from it. That would be at least my bet.

Section 5 – Retail & Commerce (18:13)

Nuno: Moving to retail and commerce. This is a space where I really only see one scenario for the decade, and I know I’m going to be aggressive about it, but hopefully right. And that scenario is a scenario where e-commerce, mcommerce, mobile driven commerce or mobile first commerce will fundamentally win, where there’s no way back from that.

So I’m not saying we will have the death of local retail. I’m not saying we’ll have the death of big box retail, but all these retail spaces, the brick and mortar ones will serve a different view. In some ways the view that Apple, for example, with the Apple store has shown us, which is the physical experience become potentially more of an experiential experience, or for example, for the consumption of food, or restaurants, grocery shopping, et cetera, although we’ll come back to that with this COVID world a lot of things have also changed around that. But I see a world under which we really buy everything online in some way. And with that world, I believe there will be the emergence of brands that will have their own right to exist.

We’ve talked in the previous episode around DTC “direct to consumer” 2.0 versus 1.0, at that moment I mentioned, for me, one of the core differentiations is 2.0 will have product differentiation, not just marketing, SEO differentiation. So we’ll have brands that will actually win the day. And the interesting thing is, in that world, in a world where everything is mostly online, where the physical is more of the experiential piece.

What happens to delivery, delivery fundamentally also need to change last mile self delivery or last mile robot delivery as we would call it, is probably something that’s now fashionable to talk about because of COVID, I think it’s here to stay. I think we will see better ways of having last mile delivery.

Drone delivery is probably going to happen as well. So this is again, one space where the momentum is there, where there will be an evolution. I do think the evolution will speed up dramatically over the decade into this one scenario that I’m defending of e-commerce, m-commerce wins, DTC 2.0 wins, and we have much better ways of delivery.

Bertrand: Yes, I’m with you in the sense that stuff are going to change very fast in e-commerce and m-commerce. And in a way, again, you can just see what happened in Asia the past 10 years. And again, will push people to move even faster there than they were going to. So I can see a world where, we are ending the next decade, where e-commerce, m-commerce might be 50%, instead of being a 10 to 15% in some markets. But to be clear, it’s already even bigger than that in Asia, in some countries like China. So it’s not taking a big chance.

On the drone delivery stuff, I’m not so sure personally , we will see, part of me would wish that, and at the same time, I’m not so sure in term of safety. Having drones all over your head, permanently delivering stuff, that could be a huge danger, it could be a terrorist danger, it could be a bio-defense issue, so I’m more pessimistic that will be allowed at the scale it’s needed to be really transformative, but I would definitely expect the efficiency of the overall logistic chain to be much stronger, much better.

If we talk about groceries delivery, it’s pretty clear it’s inefficient to send shoppers in a store. At some point, you need to change the store so that it’s more efficient from an e-commerce perspective. So I would expect more investment there.

And you talk about Apple stores, I agree, part of me thinks that their approach makes sense, and at the same time I’m not so sure. I wonder if at some point, is it really needed? Me I need a high resolution image, a very good video. I need YouTubers telling me if it looks good or bad. That trip to the Apple store, I don’t feel is that needed anymore.  But Apple is a luxury company, so that might be needed. 

Nuno: Potentially I’m not sure we are the representative segment of the mainstream, we are probably early adopters of a lot of online habits, online purchases, e-commerce, et cetera. 

Obviously in an ideal world, if you have a high fidelity environment of pictures, maybe even three dimensional, that probably will be enough. We’ve had that promise for a long time. We haven’t had it delivered. 

We promise we’ll discuss AR and VR later on as well, but just focusing again on the retail and commerce proposition, a couple of things I wanted to touch upon, the consumption of food will change dramatically. The experience of restaurants, I don’t think will fully disappear, but we’ll certainly probably change, the core scenario I see around that is that we will be more selective and going to restaurants for the experience of dining in and the dining experience itself will change.

The consumption of food, obviously we need to consume food, and you already talked about grocery delivery, food delivery a lot of people were betting before this crisis, before this pandemic, that food delivery was the future, and it was the only way that the world was going to work, so in some ways, in detriment of people are going to cook more at home.

They’re actually just going to consume more food at home, but they’re going to have it delivered. I’m not sure. The jury seems to still be out on that. The grocery delivery, phenomenon of the pandemic shows us that people are buying groceries more than they are cooking.  

Certainly food delivery will come out of this positively and therefore in a decade maybe we will have brand new world where cloud kitchens, dark kitchens have emanated, there’s a lot of granularity, a lot of capillarity of these kitchens. And so I can order great food that is very close to me, that gets delivered  to my home very, very quickly. 

But at the same time, maybe people will cook more at home as well, and so that’s maybe the winners. 

The winners are going to be food delivery, grocery delivery with me cooking at home in detriment of the restaurants dining in experience, which will become less relevant over time, which is sad, but certainly already in the scenarios of several people that have been investing in this space over the last few years.

Bertrand: Yes, and you know, one point I’ve noticed, we talk about the retail store and touching stuff. Amazon created big change in the ecosystem: the ability to easily return your package that has been delivered. So for me, that’s one thing I’ve noticed is that, I’m less risk averse to try stuff in e-commerce, because, if I know I can return in the next 30 days, in some case three months, which is pretty insane, three months, I’m willing to take a chance. What’s the downside?

The downside is just that for a few weeks, I have some   amount of money that is out. But if I trust the system, and that’s where the major platforms have a big advantage because you trust them more than somebody else, then you know that actually your risk is not that big. 

You’re not happy, you just send it back. And it has been less and less painful to go through that. In the past, it was very painful, but Amazon with their UPS drop off and the like, have personally for me changed the experience of taking a chance with some products. 

And, again, combined with some videos and high quality photos and analysis, make it like really as good as going  to the store, at least from my perspective. 

Section 6 – Leisure & Entertainment (25:26)

So maybe we can go to our next section around leisure and entertainment, what is going to change.

My take is that the TV as we used to know it is dead. And what I mean is cable TV. What I mean is not, VOD, but the old school linear programming. What I mean is that traditional TV advertising is also going to die. Potentially, sports are going to change very dramatically sports  , people might consider more e-sports approach. 

So I would expect a lot of change and, this is happening because of the native streaming offer, always available, always high-quality video-on-demand and user-generated content.

User-generated content, UGC, is very important. I think there has been an insane increase in video and it keeps going, there will be more. So I’m very excited to see even more user-generated content by end of decade. And we will all have forgotten what was cable TV about. I think not even by end of decade to be clear, in the next three to five years. I think it’s moving super fast, right now. And will be a very interesting shift because that money, let’s say TV advertising, will go somewhere else. Probably more to the Internet I guess. 

Nuno: And the real downside of this is all the physical locations that transmit, everything that’s related to this space. I mean, we talked about TV in the past, and how we were in the golden age of TV. We discussed whether we were at peak TV or not, and then COVID came, so maybe not peak TV yet.

Maybe there’s still more to come, but then there’s movies as well. And one of the discussions we have been having, even recently, you and I, Bertrand with a senior executive at Netflix, is this whole notion of the compression of windows and what happens to that, certainly in the movie space, which is probably the most effected by the COVID pandemic, because obviously movie theaters are closed and so people can not consume them.

And so what happens to the whole ecosystem? Are movie going to go always direct to streaming, and if that’s the case do they need to be charged for because that world is gone pretty much full on subscription-based. And so there is no incremental revenue. Do you need to create the incremental revenue streams on top of that in a world that is mostly subscription based or not?

it’s fascinating to me because the episode we did on media and the media streaming Wars still very much holds true today, but some of these dynamics might actually have been just accelerated even more through the pandemic and so therefore, the home becomes my consumption center.

The consumption center is the home. We might have actually drive-ins that at the end of the day re-emerge as an offering where we stand inside cars and we watch from there because we’re protected. 

For me, the cool piece of this all is we’re going to go, and this is again a place where I would say there’s only one route, there’s only one scenario I see certainly in the TV movie space, which is we’re going to an end game where we will have high fidelity personal experiences. High fidelity personal experience that can be expanded to groups of people. And that’s going to be table stakes in 10 years time.

We’re going to have experiences that we probably can sort of anticipate today, certainly from science fiction and some of the promises of VR, but that will look very, very, very engaged in terms of the high fidelity that we’re being given. 

Gaming I believe is the same. In some ways, gaming is now totally mainstream, bigger than several industry put together in the media space.

But there is more to come. There’s more high fidelity, there’s more experiential piece that need to come. And for me, the interesting piece of gaming is at some point even beyond online to offline, there needs to be physicality to gaming. There needs to be actual feelings associated with gaming. And I’m looking forward to what’s happening over the next five to 10 years. 

Again, I’m not saying VR necessarily wins, but there needs to be experiences that come and emanate from the game that I’m in and what I’m doing, and so we’re going in that direction, highly immersive experiences. And it will be interesting for me to watch whether at some point gaming actually starts cannibalizing some of the more passive experiences like TV and movies and whether gaming becomes the mainstream way because it’s immediately interactive for people to be in other worlds that are not the worlds that they’re normally in.

Bertrand: Yes, I think that gaming is fascinating. Personally, I love gaming, I’m a gamer, and I think that definitely TV is getting killed, not just by VOD and by user-generated content, but also by gaming. And very interestingly enough, in this situation of COVID, what you can see is that all TV production, movie production, is at complete stop. They cannot just shoot movies anymore. Gaming is moving on full speed. They are not missing a beat. Working remote for developers in gaming companies? Not a problem. Not an issue. Just keep your laptop. Just work from home. Done. No problem.

So it’s very interesting to see that and gaming has always been known as that cheap entertainment that always work in time of crisis. But here there is another big difference is that you can keep building it even in times of pandemics. And I would expect gaming to be significantly, significantly bigger than all the TV and movie industry combined. 

Nuno: And just to interject, actually, there is a more extreme scenario. I was saying there’s only one scenario, but there’s maybe one more extreme scenario under which gaming becomes the source of our worlds, right? Where we have people that are so embedded in games that becomes their virtual reality, but it becomes their reality. 

Bertrand: The multiverse Nuno, the multiverse.

Nuno: And so in that sense, that becomes even more powerful, which is exactly to our point, in a world maybe where one of the scenarios as we become more hermit, more focused on our home, our family unit, where we also become more focused on that virtual reality and less on the outdoors.  I am not sure I look forward to that world, but it is a possibility.

It might be that it becomes a segment of population that prefers being immersed in that multiverse that we just talked about and actually decides, I don’t want to step into the world, I don’t want to risk pandemics. There’s  no advantage for me to interact in the space. I know this seems a little bit like a bleak image, again, very scifi driven, but who knows, maybe there is a scenario under which this happens for a part of population.

Bertrand: That’s the Ready Player One scenario.

It’s a great book first, movie is okay, at least it puts into visual. But, I think  it’s a possibility, in 10 to 20 years, I would not totally eliminate, that option. I would say as much as I love VR as a user / consumer, I know it’s not ready to spread. I don’t see that ready to spread that much, but you can think of a multiverse without VR automatically. I think the two are a bit disconnected. We can see how Fortnite, for instance, is able to generate some sentiment of appartenance, belonging, to a different place without VR.

So I would say, I think that the multiverse is definitely a very interesting, potential outcome, not just for leisure and entertainment, but also for social and communication. So what will it be exactly? I don’t know, but something more tightly integrated, interconnected, e-commerce as well part of this, is interesting. And I think, let’s be careful about not mixing automatically VR with it. It might be part of it, it might be a gateway to it, but I don’t think we need to get VR to get there.

Nuno: I fully agree with that. And when I talk about the sort of virtual reality, I don’t necessarily mean it’s a VR reality. It might come under other forms in terms of device, et cetera. One thing that we might disagree on is going to be around sports. We would certainly agree that the e-sports are in the ascendancy and there’s going to be more and more e-sports and more and more consumption of e-sports. 

Recently seeing, you know, John Oliver, sponsoring the marble league in Europe, which I’m not sure counts as  e-sports, I guess televised traditional sports that don’t involve people maybe is the right way to categorize it. But overall, e-sports is an ongoing movement, precisely because of what we talked around gaming and the experiences of gaming.

So there is no way back from that. Where we might disagree is on traditional sports. I think we’re having a hiatus on traditional sports. We will have certainly a diminishing return on some of these sports and the amounts of money that have been made through tickets selling, through television rights in some of these sports will obviously have to be reacquainted to reality.

And the reality is going to be a little bit more dire for some of these leagues. Certainly in the US if you look at NFL, MLB and others, but I do think there is a tradition to sports that will sustain sports in a different way going forward, and I believe I’m a bit more bullish on this than you are Bertrand.

Bertrand: Oh yes, I’m not bullish on sports. I think it has been in the decline, in Europe, in the US, at least in term of time spent, in term of monetization, in term of fan engagement. Obviously, it has been more a rise in Asia, in China specifically, because it was coming from very little. And I think the decline is there because it’s a generational decline. The numbers shows that the younger generations don’t care as much, at all. And why is that? It’s because they have moved to gaming, to e-sports, and I don’t see any way you can go back on that.

So for me, I think it’s pretty bleak. And especially when you have the whole cable TV ecosystem going to explode, it will remove a lot of revenues from the sports ecosystem. You were kind of forced to pay for sports you didn’t care with your cable subscription, this is going to explode. So yeah, I’m pretty bleak on that. I’m not saying it’ll disappear, but it will be very far from where it was, even 5 years ago, by the end of this decade.

Nuno: I do not see a world in which, soccer, football as we know it, will disappear. I don’t see a world where basketball will stop being as relevant as it is today. It’s very exciting to me and I’m very intrigued to see how it will come out of this. What does in particular, the big arena the big stadium experience look like, post COVID and how will it change over the next decade? For me, that’s really, really interesting because that is not clear at all, and I’m sure there’s a lot of people we could talk to that would have a better perspective on what it looks like, but that doesn’t look clear at all. 

But there needs to be something like that, there needs to be a something where fans / supporters are rooting, you know, if we lose that, unfortunately we will have lost something that I believe is very important for us as human beings. This sharing ability. I remember, you know, watching world series games at AT&T park, as it used to be called, it is now called Oracle park in San Francisco.

And the comradery between people rooting for the same team the way that we acted, there’s something so special about that. I hope we don’t lose it. So it really intrigued about what the big stadium and big arena experience will look like going forward.

Bertrand:  I wish I had your enthusiasm. I just don’t see it at all in the numbers of the younger generation. And I think that some of what you describe can be there in the e-sports space. I don’t think it needs to disappear because it’s not a traditional sport, anymore. And overall, I’m not saying soccer, for instance, will disappear, but making three times less money, I think it’s a serious possibility by the end of the decade. 

Nuno: And maybe we move to the last item of the leisure and entertainment conversation, which is actually leisure traveling and going to hotels and going all around the world and exploring, or Airbnb-ing and you know, going to Bali and other parts of the world, the romantic in me wants that back.

And I think most of the people I’ve talked to in this time of shelter in place and lockdown, when I asked them, what’s the first thing you’re going to do? The first two things people are going to do is get a haircut, make sense, and obviously travel, go somewhere nice. People, even are booking now flights, what I call aspirational flight booking to the end of the year or early next year.

I even saw someone who had booked a flight for next week, that was very optimistic, to go to Hawaii. But we can’t lose that. I mean, we can’t lose the ability to go once in a while  in a nice manner and experience other cultures and experience other locations. And surely we have to keep that.

Surely that has to be there for us.

Bertrand:  I hope so, I’m pretty bleak that the coming three, four years, five years for the travel industry will be very bad. One is the virus impact directly. Two, it’s the economic crisis, what’s the first thing you cut during a time of economic crisis? Is travel. That’s a very expensive item. So it might take four or five years to go back to where we were in 2019. I’ve seen a lot of analysis that conclude around that timeframe.

So by end of this decade, 2029, I would expect we are back to something different, but some habits will definitely be different as well. I think people will be more careful about hygiene. I think some rules and regulation will be different. And the airline industry might be in a different place because, four, five years of crisis, it will be tough. So I would expect a lot of change in that whole industry, especially airlines and, obviously, cruises.

Nuno: And one of the biggest shifts might be actually the way that people travel, and instead of traveling for actually the short trip, the three day trip, the five day trip, the one week trip. Also because of the trend around remote work that we discussed in the previous episode, they might start traveling for a month, for two months, for three months, and just using that as their new outposts, that new country.

So it might be that they reduce the intensity of the flying around. And they focus their time in those spaces. I do think there’s a scenario under which this will happen where the nomadic lifestyle linked to more and more remote working becomes a mainstream lifestyle. It is not today. It might become a mainstream lifestyle,  and that would be maybe something cool.

It might be that when millennials and gen Z years with these shifts in demographics, that we see people that start working and living in the places that they want to visit, not just going there for fun. And hopefully the telecom infrastructure and the tech infrastructure will support them in those endeavors. But that is definitely a plausible scenario for us.

Bertrand: I think as long as you don’t have kids, I would agree. The minute you have kids in the middle, and the logistics of managing them and having support and all of this, I think  it’s a tougher spot to be. But yeah, part of me would like to agree with that. 

Nuno: But we just discussed education and there is a scenario under which there will be more and more remote education as well. So maybe we might as well go full on remote travel the world and arbitrage.

Bertrand: You, have some additional support and, grandparents, family, or stuff. It’s a lot going on, would be my take. But again, I’m hopeful that it can expand beyond, single or the married-no-kids situation. But I think it’s a tough one with kids. At least on this scale where we’re talking about real change, not anecdotal. ‘Cause anecdotal, it will always happen. 

Nuno: The advantage of traveling to some of these parts of the world is certainly an arbitrage on the help you can have and the people that you can have supporting you while you are in Bali, for example, versus in the US 

Bertrand: That’s fair 

Nuno: It’s a scenario. I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not. It’s a bit extreme. It’s a bit extreme, but who knows? Maybe it’s just me, me thinking, the guy who doesn’t have kids

Bertrand: That’s a true point that there is arbitrage if you go to some other places.

Section 7 – Social & Communication (41:18)

Maybe let’s move to social and communication, new tools, new social tools, new networks for gen Z-ers, people from the gen Z generation. I would expect that for sure new tools will evolve, will happen. Snapchat has been challenging Facebook for a while. Will there be a challenger to Snapchat itself? Some new apps like Tik Tok from Bytedance have emerged in the past few years, and definitely are challenging the status quo, specially coming from china and expanding across the world.

For sure is that, new generations like to enjoy new tools that their older generations are not on, at least not yet. So there is always a generational change in term of these tools. Will security and privacy become differentiator for consumers? I would expect that, yes. And this will be an interesting question. I think people in general were not really caring about that, but there has been enough issues these days that people might look at it more carefully and as a core part of what they expect from their platform.

The question will be government regulations. Can you keep privacy and  regulations at the same time? It clear in some countries, it’s not the case. Will it get worse? I don’t know. It’s tough for me, I think there  are some very different scenarios, there. 

Will there be another business model than advertising, I am not sure for social and communication , but e-commerce is probably one to closely follow for these apps.

Nuno: For me, there is a big shift that will happen with gen Z as we discussed in our gen Z episode. This social tools and networks that will serve them will be different from what they have today. The Instagrams of the world, I’m not sure will be the winners going forward. I do think that the social interactivity piece, the digital social interactivity piece will actually change.

We’ve seen the advent of things like House Party that have been around for a while, but finally truly took off. We’ve seen the rush around Club House and that deal and how it was done very recently. So there is certainly a lot of aspects around social networks and social tools that will look slightly different.

Mediums of communication like video will be more and more important. We’re even seeing now in dating, several of the dating sites, adopting video pretty quickly as a way to create still a connection or a virtual connection in the early stages of dating, I guess , so video is of essence. 

Bertrand: No more text chat then?

Nuno: I think there will still be text chat, there will still be video, but obviously right now there isn’t in person. So video sort of replaces a bit  for that experiential piece. There is obviously voice: voice in general for communications has been used over time, but as  a very dramatic way of socially communicating, we haven’t seen I believe all its potential being realized.

So that is another medium that will have a lot of importance. 

Business models, you discussed advertising. The trade offs with privacy are obvious and clear. So what’s the other options? Will subscription show up in social as well? It might, it’s certainly a plausible scenario.  There might be other plays where it’s sort of freemium.

We just talked about dating, for example. That’s clearly a freemium space. And we talked about gaming. Gaming, and  with e-sports in the midst of it might become its own social conduit. I would allege it already has. And so some of the social networks of the future might actually emanate and come from experiences and activities that are not necessarily intrinsically social when they start, but ended up being. Social gaming would be a great example of that. So very excited about social and communication in particular as gen Z start taking hopefully over the world in the next, 10 to 20 years.

For me, that’s a very, very exciting space, for what we have. 

On security and privacy. I’ve been a big believer that privacy should be provided, as you know, table stakes. Can you have privacy as a service on top of it? We’ll probably end up in a world, if I had to put my stick on the ground on a scenario that I believe in, we’ll probably end up in a world where there will be people that require extreme privacy and non extreme privacy.

It would probably depend on your activities and people will pay for privacy, I believe. Because it’s not a given, it’s clear that it’s not a given today. So I do think there’s business models around it. The privacy as a service play is certainly something that we will see, I believe, in the next 10 years becoming bigger and bigger.

Bertrand: I total agree on gaming as a new conduit for social, and communications, and it’s already happening. 

I’ve heard so many people telling me that, they play massively multiplayer games, for instance, and it’s becoming a dating place, and they make friends, but in a way where everyone knows that’s what’s happening, and that’s the side use case without talking too much about it. So yeah, I agree 100%.

Another piece I think is the importance of video. And because of the importance of video, I think we will see much, much better investment on the hardware side, in term of better sound quality, a better camera to, record you, a better of front-facing camera. So I would expect our screens, our laptops to have massive improvements in the next 10 years on that level, the same way that we saw insane improvement in photography the past 10 years from your phone, I would expect the same level of improvement from your phone, your laptop, your TV in term of video recording and audio.

I think these two are critical for better, remote work, remote communication, making something more enjoyable and more higher quality. And I think we will see that. I think we have some experience ourself doing our own podcast, investing in the right equipment for the best quality possible, for you guys listening to us , and we can see how a dramatic impact it can have when you go to higher end quality stuff. So I would expect that to be part of our life as well.

Conclusion (47:13)

Nuno: And with all this we conclude episode 12. We will continue the discussion on the 2020s in the next episode, our last episode on the 2020s, episode 13, in that episode we will be going through the platforms of the future, who will dominate the world by 2029/2030, we will talk about the structural tech layers that will support that. We will also discuss how the world around venture capital and startups will look like. And finally we will have some overall framing of the 2020s into a few broad global scenarios.

Thank you, look out for episode 13

Bertrand: Thank you Nuno.

Yes, thank you Bertrand.