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Friday Letter: How the pandemic is impacting the future of work

Newly promoted Minn Kim of seed investor Bloomberg Beta talks about the future of work and what the firm is investing in.

I spoke this week with Minn Kim of Bloomberg Beta about one of my favorite VC-related investment topics: the future of work.

This is one of those sector descriptions that investors really hate or really love. Half of the people I ask think it’s nothing more than enterprise software, or even more generally, they’ll say it’s just SaaS.

But a host of investors I know love the topic, including Sarah Cannon of Index Ventures and Saar Gur of CRV – two VCs at large firms that invest in the broad category. And this category includes employee education, automation in the workplace, the freelance economy and enabling technologies in older companies that probably haven’t adopted any new tech since the 1980s.

Also, Moment Ventures last year raised a $37 million second fund to focus on the future of work. Clint Chao of Moment Ventures recently told me his firm is finding opportunities emerging in areas like mental health, consumer packaged goods and food.

For Bloomberg Beta, a seed-stage investor on its third fund, the firm has also zeroed in on the area since its founding more than seven years ago. Kim – who was this week promoted to principal at Bloomberg Beta – said the firm’s focus is on a few things, but she describes future of work as helping make businesses better. This includes productivity apps, which she loves.

She and I chatted over Zoom this week about how the pandemic has impacted the future of work category. She’s definitely seeing more start-ups arise that are looking to build on top of Zoom and focus on the new reality of more workers at home.

She’s not the only one. A host of new start-ups are emerging that build upon Zoom, such as Fireflies, which allows users to search meetings and mark moments; Stream, which helps users host events; and Otter, a provider of voice-to-text transcription.

Kim said Bloomberg Beta recently made an undisclosed investment in a company that is looking to add interactivity to Zoom calls.

In regards to working from home and how most everyone is using Zoom to communicate, Kim noted that the pandemic accelerated the work from home trend. But she says advocates of WFH did not expect the circumstances we all find ourselves in now.

“Zoom is so unnatural. In real life you’re never in a room staring at everyone’s face, including your own,” said Kim, who is the first person with the title of principal at Bloomberg Beta. “Before the pandemic, even if you used Zoom, you still had the option of calling from the office or meeting someone in person. But now we’re all adjusting to using Zoom all the time and there are start-ups looking to improve upon it.”

I agree. I tend to have on average two to three Zoom calls a day, and sometimes as many as seven, and there’s room to improve how I stay in touch with my colleagues and meet investors from the VC community.

What do you think? Is the future of work something you or your firm are interested in?What is – or should be – the consideration for LPs and GPs when looking at this category?

I’m always happy to hear from you. You can reach me at agoldfisher@buyoutsinsider.com and I’m open to voice and video calls, of course.