Rarely has the nature of our interactions changed so profoundly and so quickly. Suddenly, nearly all of our personal and professional relationships are being built and nurtured online—predominantly through video. Following the pandemic, our new normal will look vastly different as many of the new routines we’ve adopted solidify into long-term behaviors that far outlast the coronavirus crisis.
Video is providing a lifeline to companies, schools, and health institutions, as well as their employees, customers, students, and patients. After getting over the initial shock of sheltering in place, many employees have found that they love working from home and are more productive than ever thanks to workplace collaboration tools like Zoom and Slack. (My firm, Emergence Capital, is a Zoom investor and customer.)
Employers, too, are realizing that remote work keeps productivity high and provides an opportunity to reach talented professionals wherever they live. Meanwhile, small and midsize businesses (SMB) that used to deliver services in person are now operating over video.
No longer geographically constrained, these SMBs can scale whatever service they provide, be it tutoring, painting night, or yoga classes. Universities and K-12 schools, too, are being pushed headfirst into online education. Meanwhile, telemedicine, long dangled before us as a perk of the future, is finally coming to fruition.
In short, we’ve entered a video-first economy.
As investors, we’ve seen this kind of seismic shift before when legacy on-premise systems migrated to the cloud. In fact, that shift actually inspired the creation of our firm 18 years ago, and ever since we have witnessed how the cloud has democratized software and services for SMBs. It created a renaissance of innovation that has improved countless lives and has led to the creation of numerous iconic companies.
However, the difference between now and then is that Salesforce led the shift to the cloud to empower salespeople. (Emergence was an early investor in Salesforce.) In contrast, videoconferencing providers like Zoom have led this shift to video to empower the world. And, as before, with transformational change comes enormous opportunity.
Iconic companies are going to be built in the emerging video-first economy. As with any market shift, the first movers will gain the advantage. Here are areas we think are particularly ripe for innovation in