In 2020, the onset of a new decade, we find ourselves at a human and business inflection point. To put this into context, the last twenty years have seen enormous professional, personal, and cultural transitions, some of which gave way to growing global uncertainty. As a society, we sought distraction from reality. This need for diversion aligned flawlessly with the rise of technology. We began living under the influence of the algorithm and the Amazon-ification of culture, where gradually our wants superseded our needs. On the heels of an era of extremes—extreme access, extreme shopping, extreme wealth disparity, extreme media, extreme exposure, extreme politics—people are looking for balance. People are growing fatigued by what some view as reckless consumerism and they are increasingly frustrated by institutions.
We now witness a consumer in transition. Today’s emerging wants and needs are shaped by a confluence of trends: environmentalism, preventative health, case for self-investment, loneliness, shifting values, COVID-19, social activism and the fight for injustice.
In a society that has arguably valued economic progress over human progress, we find ourselves in a split market. For too long we have seen our needs (human sector) and wants (consumer sector) as separate entities, instead of two halves of the same being.
The next ten years will be centered on readdressing the unintended consequences of the last two decades in order to create balanced businesses that deliver value that is both sustainable for people and the planet.
In championing the next wave of category-leading business, we need to design the market to see the whole person, both their wants and needs. Ultimately a balanced market will yield more valued, and valuable, businesses while addressing a more valued, and valuable, customer.
We call this Venture with Intention.
Now more than ever we need to be investing in the next wave of business growth inspired by changes people truly desire — and require — in order to move away from disruption, distribution, and distraction toward adaptation, creation, and traction.
This Fall, we’re on the cusp of a political election, of which has left many of us confused, disillusioned, and uncertain of our futures. We’re more than halfway through the beginning of a new decade, and already this year has intensified and exposed so many important issues that have been simmering beneath the surface of our social contracts. We’re living amid the crisis and fallout of COVID and the social pandemic of racism.
The pandemic left us all to isolate, but the need to support the profound Black Lives Matter movement inspired us to take to protests and stand for social and racial reform.
For the past months, we have been motivating ourselves to learn, understand and act. This isn’t just within the walls of the Forerunner Ventures office but with our portfolio companies as well. For too long, there has been a lack of self-awareness permeating the predominantly white tech community. What we’ve seen and our ongoing education of the deeply rooted matters, have become a guiding principle as we build our roadmap for permanent change and allyship. This is not a templated corporate statement; this is our call to daily action to keep anti-racist momentum going, and we’ll continue to use this to make not only business decisions, but personal ones as well.
In sum, we’ve had to rethink what values and actions we hold dear, and we can no longer live our lives without empathy for how everything we do impacts the world around us. Our actions, our words, our purchases, and our conversations have an influence we are more attuned to than ever.
With all of this in mind, we believe that our legacy of understanding people’s behaviors, preferences, and expectations offers a distinct advantage. When combined with a clear view of what it takes to have real business and social impact and reach scale, we believe we are well-positioned to find the next set of breakout companies.