Check your Pulse #40

world 2.0

Hi, I’m Sari Azout and this is the the 40th edition of Check your Pulse, a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human. I try to make this one of the best emails you get each week. If you’re enjoying it and know someone who’d like this sort of thing in their inbox, they can sign up here.

Happy Day Number Whatever of Quarantine.

The barrier to hit Send is far higher these days. I’ve been unsure about what to say here that would be helpful and have more questions than answers, frankly.

Should tech startups apply for emergency loans? Should we be shopping right now? How should influencers behave (or not behave) in the age of Coronavirus? What even is the debate on privacy now? In particular, the asymmetry between technological progress and privacy seems palpable. We gave up our privacy for a few likes, shouldn’t we do it to save lives? Is using the term equalizer appropriate or offensive? The fight I’m in is definitely different than that of a homeless person or a single mother who lost her job. Should I even be using the term crisis when I’m at home wearing PJs all day, playing board games with my kids, and making homemade pasta for the first time? Maybe the true crisis (for me) is how I’ve been living thus far.

I was intrigued by Covid Promises, a simple website inspired by Hunter Walk’s tweet that prompts you to fill out a form and share the promises you want to be reminded of once a vaccine is ready and things return to “normal”.

Something we should all be pondering. Because as Deepak Chopra said, if this doesn’t change us, we deserve whatever happens to us.



The numbers around Covid19 are astounding. Here are some not surprising but still shocking stats I pulled together:

This summary of how Coronavirus changed the world 💯👇🏽

What everyone got wrong about the toilet paper shortage In short, the toilet paper industry is split into two, largely separate markets: commercial and consumer. The pandemic has shifted the lion’s share of demand to the latter. People actually do need to buy significantly more toilet paper during the pandemic — not because they’re making more trips to the bathroom, but because they’re making more of them at home. 🧻

A 101year old WW2 and Spanish Flu survivor beat Covid-19 💯

Kyle Westway took the 880-page $2 trillion stimulus package and turned it into a 40 page guide that answers in plain human terms: 1. Is there money in it for me? 2. Are there tax breaks I should be taking advantage of? 3. How do I take care of my people and my bottom line? 📔

If you’re wondering why many recipes blogs have an essay before the recipe, Eater has a funny article on the subject. Unfortunately, without those essays recipes don't rank well in Google, so they're a necessary evil for food bloggers. This is the one area where SEO is seriously broken. 🍜

The data visualization work that The Pudding is doing is amazing. I particularly enjoyed their recent one on census history. They looked at every question on every census from 1790 to 2020 and reveal how the countries values, norms, and biases have changed. 😮

This, from Catherine Lepage’s Thin Slices of Anxiety 👇🏽

Eugene Wei on Behavioral Rigidity and TAM is great food for thought. When we speak about the total addressable market (TAM) for consumer products, we don’t speak often enough about the behavioral or habitual TAM. But it matters. Self-isolation from COVID-19 is causing a decline in Spotify streaming. You might say that since Spotify can stream over your phone, it’s TAM is almost all your waking hours. In actuality, it’s not, and understanding the behavioral overlay of TAM on one’s daily routine definitely matters.

On a related note, the much anticipated Quibi launched this week. I was surprised and disappointed that they don’t have a TV experience. Their selling point is that it’s perfect for on-the-go viewing, but with most of us at home, their “behavioral TAM” seems to have shrunk. 🎬

Top 100 growing and declining categories in e-commerce 📊

Best piece I read on what trends will be accelerated, which delayed, and which stopped entirely. 👀

Scott Galloway argues that Covid-19 will do to education in the U.S. what SARS did to e-commerce in Asia. He predicts we will see dozens (maybe hundreds) of universities not reopen and that we will see a flight to quality and a concentration of power amongst a small number of brands. MIT/Google could enroll 100,000 kids at $100,000 in tuition (a bargain), yielding $5 billion a year (two-year program). 🎓

In Positional Scarcity, Alex Danco argues that the death of business travel and traditional education has been greatly exaggerated, even if we come up with really effective temporary alternatives. Anywhere you encounter a situation that makes you think: “all of this abundance is making my place in line feel scarce”, there’s opportunity for creative business models. 🤔

NFX surveyed 400 founders and VCs to take their temperature. Founders are more optimistic, 70% of them think the US economy will have recovered by April 21. Half of VCs, on the other hand, reckon it will be April 2022 or later. 🌡️

In this emotionally charged podcast episode, Kara Swisher interviews Chamath Palihapatiya on the investing landscape post-pandemic. Thoughts that stuck:

  • Long term profitability was maximized when the world was maximizing efficiency: cheaper, faster, better The world is moving toward maximizing resiliency- that is, expensive, slower, and not as efficient but more reliable

  • Going forward, companies will have to price in the possibility of a pandemic and climate change into their products.

  • Will Silicon Valley be the same after this? No, because if people can work remotely, why stay there? Work where you want to live.

  • People will hit the reset button. Who cares how much money you have? They’ll want to be somewhere safe, healthy, with their family in a reasonable place, with a guaranteed salary focusing on what really matters to them and doing something good for society.

  • In Western countries, there will be a debate: civil liberties versus public health and safety. People may look back and see that if we had the right surveillance in a time of dire need, we could have saved lives and been spared the economic fallout.

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If you’re wondering who’s behind this newsletter:

My name is Sari Azout. I am a design-thinker, strategist, and early stage startup investor at Level Ventures and Rokk3r. My mission is to bring more humanity and creativity to technology and business.

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