Friday letter: What trends will stick around after covid-19?

More reflections on the coronavirus impact from VCs Jim Scheinman of Maven Ventures and Bennett Cohen of Piva.

After almost a month into quarantine life, and a lot of investors are ruminating about what the future holds.

This is true when it comes to investing in start-ups, such as Marina Temkin’s story on telemedicine in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic and resulting downturn, Tom Stein’s report on how online tutoring has gotten a boost, or my piece on how cybersecurity needs have risen around recent events.

Investors are also thinking about how life itself will change. Jim Scheinman of Maven Ventures, wrote a Medium blog post a week ago in which he notes how many more people are seeing the benefits of WFH and telecommuting. Scheinman, who was an early investor in Zoom, says he hopes that being tethered to a desk full-time in an office becomes a thing of the past for many once employers see the benefits to environment with less travel pollution.

VC Jim Scheinman Maven Ventures
Jim Scheinman of of Maven Ventures. Photo by Alastair Goldfisher.

Scheinman also notes how the lines of work, family and home have become blurred. I’m sure we all agree that after using videoconferencing technologies in the past few weeks, all of us have seen more of our colleagues’ families, pets and home decor than we ever imagined. He calls it a good thing that lightens the mood and will hopefully make us a more compassionate workforce.

Bennett Cohen of San Francisco energy investor Piva has also thought of the long-term impact of covid-19.

Piva is based at 4 Embarcadero, which overlooks the San Francisco Bay, where the firm could see from its conference room the Grand Princess cruise ship come into harbor last month at the Port of Oakland.

Cohen notes how telecommuting could stick around after concerns over coronavirus subside, but he tells Venture Capital Journal that not everyone can work remotely. It’s “typically just those with higher-paying office or tech jobs. The benefits of not having to commute will increase the advantages of the already advantaged members of society.”

However, the ability to work from home can enable a better option for new parents to maintain momentum in their careers right when it’s the hardest, soon after childbirth and with small children, Cohen says. With the proven availability of telecommuting, will workers, especially women, continue choose between leaving the workforce to start a family and their careers?

VC Bennett Cohen Piva

“All new parents may find working from home, and saving hours of commute time, helps them bond early with their children and naturally take on more shared family-oriented responsibilities without missing a step at work,” he says. “Overall this can be a big boost for leveling the playing field at work and at home.”

Other thoughts from Cohen include:

  • The use of air travel will go down, and pressure to improve the passenger experience will increase;
  • The shift toward e-commerce and grocery delivery will accelerate. In addition, early adoption of driverless deliveries through drones and droids will accelerate;
  • Houses will be reconfigured to enable remote work; and
  • Unnecessary travel for work will decline.

I would love to hear how covid-19 is impacting you. Are you seeing any sticky habits related to investing or life at home that you and your peers won’t be able to live without? Share with us at Happy to hear more and I’m open to any Zoom meeting invites.