As I sit in my home office putting the final touches on this letter, a 52-year-old critical care nurse in nearby Queens, New York received the very first COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. This year was marked with unimaginable loss on a global scale and while virus cases and deaths are increasing at an alarming rate, a sense of optimism emerges as we start to turn the corner. Nothing will be as it once was and I hold my people and communities tighter than I did before. A remarkable thing happened during this stretch of physical isolation and seeming stasis: connectivity grew, the pace of change accelerated, and our sense of possibility rejuvenated.
At these rare moments of transformation, we must realize that there is no going back to normal: we must set a course to go forward to the extraordinary, to a perspective where growth and achievement are possible, recovery is top of the agenda for all, and innovation is not just a slogan but a practice. Here at LionTree, on March 12, we moved our entire global team to working remotely, created new internal communities to ensure both information flow and health were paramount, and hosted weekly client town halls to share best practices, insights and keep in check both our sanities and our drive. These are the people and experiences that I will take with me into this new year.
In last year’s letter, I introduced the concept of “scale players in motion.” We could not have imagined how important and how quickly “motion” became imperative for survival in 2020. Incumbents needed to become more nimble in response to the pressures placed on traditional business models by tech platforms and startups. The pandemic called for rapid forward motion. Pivoting business models, once a hallmark of startup culture, became a necessity. Companies were forced to leave behind the old ways that worked in the past.
Companies were not the only ones forced to make these adjustments. We all had to decide what habits and perspectives we brought with us, and what we left behind. There is a new dawn happening now that features the transformation of industries, environmental and societal fixes in motion, diversification of growth, and economic rebound ripe with opportunity. This year was filled with “black swan” moments, from which we need to learn from, not be paralyzed by. Not every year will be 2020, but the lessons of 2020 should make us better every year going forward.
These lessons clarified for me back in November, when for the first time in months, I looked out an airplane window and saw sun, sand and a sparkling metropolis built by strategic investments in the future. I was landing in the United Arab Emirates, a relatively new country putting aside old antipathies with a confident vision. Peace and profits have a way of unlocking politics and paradoxes, tilting possibility on its axis. I stopped by the beautiful new Louvre Abu Dhabi, a 30-year joint venture with France and saw their motto “see humanity in a new light” as especially resonant. Masks on, eyes open, we are all adjusting our vision to this new light.
Even with the vaccine promising a fresh start, packing the habits and best practices we want to carry and leaving behind those we don’t will take real wisdom. It's not sustainable to live in a state of crisis, a moment of societal upheaval or political unrest, or within markets where the established players in each industry are locked. Moving forward in 2021 requires not only knowing but internalizing the truth that digitization is the whirlwind that will remake everything. From politics to financial systems, from live events and sports, to wellness and the way we work, to food supply chains and education. Collective effort, built from a range of perspectives, from Wall Street to Main Street, from CEOs to protestors, will propel us into the future.
Beyond these binaries, we all need to rediscover the grey area, the challenging terrain where we grow together. It means leaving behind the restrictions that limit us and the divisions that erupted this summer in ways that show our country is still fractured and that shamefully we still harbor biases that stain the fabric of our society.
II. A Period of Realignment is Underway
This year has reminded us that even though much is out of our control, we remain the artists tasked with creating the image of our future. What is required is perspective, imagination, and proper execution. It is not the first time these have been in demand. There was an engraving of a sun on the back of George Washington’s chair at the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787. The delegates whispered among themselves about whether the sun was rising or setting, and what it augured for the risky rebellion that would eventually turn into the country that will inaugurate its 46th President next month.
The wisest of them all, Benjamin Franklin, was also conflicted. But in an instant, he saw the truth: the sun was rising. It was a matter of perspective - a distinction that made all the difference. The shortsighted saw a dimming British Empire. The farsighted perceived a brightening future. The optimists were right. Breaking with the past and betting on the future made a new world.
But let’s leave history to the historians. We are living at a moment of opportunity for re-founding of our society - a realignment only we can set in motion: economically, socially and with our most precious asset, our health. The surest foundations are set amid chaos and the most enduring masterpieces emerge from the mess of disruption. Many of the most influential companies were formed out of our darkest periods - General Motors, Disney, Walmart and Microsoft, just to name a few. The Dot-com bubble, 9/11 and the Financial Crisis of 2008 helped create the ripe ecosystem for Google, Uber, and Airbnb. Constraint calls forth creativity. Scarcity is the new abundance.
As this year unfolded, and during our weekly all hands video conference in the heart of the pandemic, I told my team - leave it all behind. Let us take not only what we can carry, but what will carry us. If we focus on the essential, we will make ourselves essential. As we set off for parts unknown, the indispensable things that we need to take with us are curiosity about the world coming into being and trust in the people and communities that we travel alongside. We keep each other safe so that we can soar.
To find a center, we need to journey to the farthest points. To build a network, we need to familiarize ourselves with its furthest points, where dissent lives and where the action is. And to develop a culture, we must be at home at the “edge”: the ideas, trends, and perspectives that cut against the Establishment today and innovate their claim to be the Establishment of the future. As the horizon moves, we must move with it and bring along as many people as we can. The Latin phrase audi alteram partem, “listen to the other side,” means to hear voices different from your own. To create transformation we will need to hear both the blue-collar workers and the billionaires, the markets and the small businesses, the coasts and the Sunbelt and Midwest constituents, of every race, color and gender. We are living during a time of change, but change also takes time.
The exodus from offices and public spaces to homes means that mass media is giving way to “me-dia''. Each person is their own channel, with Zooming options beamed in the image of their preferences. Scale is no longer a virtue for its own sake, and companies that cannot make their footprint feel intimate and bespoke will fail to gain traction. I started my letter last year with the mantra plus ultra, or “something beyond.” This year, we lived it. In a world of pandemic, the plus has become necessary. Media companies have been branding their streaming video services with a plus-sign at the end of their names (“+”), to signify to the consumer that they are getting something new, with more value ( Disney+, Hulu+, ESPN+, Apple TV+, Paramount+, BET+, Discovery+). Every company needs to be working towards the + version of itself, all the time.
We are building LionTree+ in everything we do. Going forward to extraordinary means embracing the “+” part of the equation. What is the next version of ourselves, unmoored from offices and the morning commute and the assumptions that held us back? With the help of technology from companies like Zoom, Microsoft and ServiceNow, we reinvented what it meant to work, constructing a plan to stay safe, imaginative, and alive to the opportunities ahead of us. We realigned our space and reconfigured our mindset to advise, invest, and partner against a backdrop nobody has ever seen before. In the coming pages, you will see how LionTree’s merchant banking strategies are interwoven with the industry players, thematics and market participants which govern our daily actions. We grow in tandem with the dreamers and doers who form our expanding and deepening community.
To highlight in bright brushstrokes just a few accomplishments from this past year: we were so proud to participate in deals like ViacomCBS’s sale of Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House LLC, Liberty Global and Telefonica’s £31 billion UK merger of Virgin Media and O2UK, the New York Times’s acquisition of Serial; SiriusXM’s purchase of Stitcher, the sale of eBay’s Classifieds business to Adevinta, and Univision Communications’ sale of a majority stake to investors including ForgeLight, Searchlight and Televisa who see the value in Spanish Language communities and content. Transactions create transformations.
In this + universe, new geographies require fresh centers of gravity. We need to build infrastructure flexible enough to shift to the “plus.” That starts with ourselves. But it will include networks reimagined, e-commerce reinvented, whole industries renovated and paths to public markets rebuilt. I passionately believe in New York City+ and am loyal to its recovery and future. We are staying put and investing in that reality. At the same time, as we have seen from adaptive companies such as Palantir who recently announcement moving their headquarters to Denver, no locale has a monopoly on creativity and connectivity. In a world where many people can work from anywhere, there will be many new ‘somewheres,’ from mid-size American cities to new global hubs in the Far East. Perhaps it’s the time for multiple “passports” operating comfortably in a range jurisdictions.
We need to pursue life with the liberated energy of people who are ready to chase excellence with gusto. If we have been quarantined, we have also been unlocked and freed for the future. This is true on a personal level, on a business one, and for our society at large. Potential needs to be pursued, and if the path is not the right one, chart a new one. Every year is a mirror for what came before and a window for what’s next. As I wrote the last couple of years in this letter, scale players remain in motion, and we certainly remain a work in progress. But my eyes and heart and mind are firmly facing forward. Last December we thought we were headed into a new decade of opportunity, now let us take a deep breath and jump into the true start of a next decade.
III. Market Outlook
My fundamental thesis on the near-term capital markets is that we will enter 2021 with a robust, almost unprecedented, market environment, buoyed by three primary catalysts: (1) continued positive impact of fiscal and monetary stimulus, (2) COVID-19 vaccine, which should facilitate economic recovery, lower unemployment levels, and allow business and job creation to rebound, and (3) SPAC impact on company capital raising strategies, which is bringing more companies public and providing investors with more diversified investment opportunities.
More specifically on the first two points, an accommodative Federal Reserve policy (i.e., low interest rates), the promise of further government stimulus and a vaccine suggest positive momentum in the first half of next year. These are global trend lines. There is a real bull case for the U.S. economy in 1H 2021, with favorable comparisons to this year. I would also expect to see the beginnings of a comeback for those industries who have been especially hard hit by pandemic-driven lockdowns such as live events, travel and outdoor advertising. Companies like Expedia, Live Nation and Ocean Outdoor should bounce back and join those that have already found their footing. I am bullish on industries that bring people together and benefit from public gatherings - I firmly believe we will not leave behind our sense of belonging and community as we migrate through the new year.
That being said, the trajectory of the global recovery might be somewhat choppy after the initial bump and looking into the back half of 2021 and beyond. U.S. markets, while robust and optimistic heading into 2021, are already trading at record valuation multiples, implying that some of this optimism is already priced in. Retail investors undoubtedly have been a driving force here, boosting the “hot” momentum stocks - they now account for roughly 20% of stock market activity, on average, up from just 10% in 2019, according to Citadel Securities, and JPMorgan estimates that U.S. retail brokerages now hold nearly $6 trillion in assets. One theory is that commission-free trading has become a form of entertainment for some and a replacement for live sports gambling for others during the pandemic. Whether amateur or professional investor, bears are nowhere to be found, as the median S&P 500 stock had outstanding short interest accounting for just 1.6% of market capitalization, the lowest level since at least 2004, based on October data compiled by Goldman Sachs.
Inflation and currency devaluation are two longer-term risks I am attuned to as well, which could result from continued aggressive monetary policy from the U.S. and other nations. In addition, the ways in which technology continues to transform the economy will result in better outcomes for some industries than others - efficiency and productivity have created both new wealth and fresh problems of unemployment and income inequality, dynamics which are sure to define and complicate the future of work.
As we look ahead to the future, I would suggest that the framework of global cooperation are vastly strengthened on a structural level. Recent deals have been occurring at a seemingly frenetic pace from the China Trade Deal (R.C.E.P.) to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA (“NAFTA 2.0”), with trade deals between the UK and EU in the works. We are also seeing historic regional peace deals, most notably, the Abraham Accords in the Middle East/Gulf and Serbia and Kosovo’s economic normalization pact. As we enter a period of political normalization and global recovery, I think it is prudent to look not just at the West but also Eastward (Middle East, Africa, and Asia) for investment opportunities.
A. The “Bull Recession” of 2020
At this time last year, the consensus outlook was that the U.S. was heading for a market slowdown and potentially a recession in 2020. Instead, this year, we have experienced a “bull recession”- a continuation of last year’s bull run in the stock market, with the backdrop of a powerful, even if short term economic recession. The image of our moment is not black and white, but painted in complicated shades of grey.
U.S. GDP is forecast to decline (-3.7%) in 2020, the worst since 1946 (-11%) when government spending dropped significantly as the country pivoted from a wartime economy built around manufacturing supplies for the World War II effort to a peacetime economy focused on creating civilian jobs. The unemployment rate as of November 2020 is 6.7%, down from the all-time high of 14.7% in April 2020 but still about two-times what it was in February 2020.
Yet, extraordinary fiscal and monetary interventions have propelled asset prices to new all-time highs. In fact, due to these massive government actions, we experienced the shortest bear market ever – just 33 days compared to 302 days on average since the 1920s (of course, the second shortest was in 1929). In addition, job growth is likely to continue to be hampered by both the lingering and lengthening effects of the pandemic and structural transformations to the American economy, engendered by technological transformation, disruptive efficiencies, and digitization. These changes both offer new opportunities and take a real human toll. They increase the urgency of finding ways to grow the pie for everyone.
B. Credit Markets
The Federal Reserve’s bond-buying initiatives also helped resuscitate credit markets in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the investor appetite for riskier debt tranches has been remarkable. US high-yield debt issuance reached nearly $350 billion for 2020 through October 7, marking a new annual record, according to S&P 500 Global Market Intelligence data. Borrowing costs are notably low, as the average new issue yield for unsecured debt was 4.97% in November, setting a new all-time low. Ball Corporation’s offering in August set a record for the lowest-ever borrowing costs for a BB+ or below credit, raising $1.3 billion 10-year bonds with a coupon of just 2.875%. Spreads, as observed by the S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Corporate Bond Index, settled at 398 basis points over the 10-year Treasury note in November, the tightest since late February. The cheaper cost of credit, especially in the back-half of the year, allowed many corporations to repay existing debt and shore up liquidity at a critical moment. Now that companies have more balance sheet flexibility heading into 2021, it will be interesting to see how their capital allocation priorities may change.
C. IPO Market Resilience, Mispricing
The U.S. IPO market also had a volatile year, but bounced back strongly after a slow first half, showing enduring strength of the market. LionTree had the privilege to co-manage Warner Music Group’s IPO in June, which became the first scaled TMT company to test the market this year, and signaled to the broader industry that the IPO markets were receptive to new issuances again. In the 30 days following the Warner Music IPO, 30 traditional IPOs were priced vs just 26 in the first 5 months of 2020 combined. Investor demand for some of the higher-profile deals has been massive this year, with Airbnb, Lemonade, Snowflake, and BigCommerce all trading up over 100% on the first day of trading. In fact, historical data compiled by University of Florida Professor Jay Ritter shows Airbnb was the 19th company in 2020 to double in its first day of trading, which marked the most since the Dot Com Bubble of 1999 & 2000 when 117 & 77 companies, respectively, at least doubled in their first day of trading.
Naturally, this has led to a growing concern among issuers that companies are not raising capital efficiently through the traditional IPO. As a recent example, gaming platform Roblox “paused” its IPO until next year for various reasons including concerns management concerns about the efficient pricing dynamics. This reflects the massive delta right now between what large institutional investors and retail investors will pay for growth, and how issuers must balance early investor and employee shareholder concerns as well (who, if selling at IPO, would view a large IPO “pop” as leaving money on the table). No company wants to miss out on the entire IPO “pop”, but this example highlights how, in this bullish IPO market, management teams and sponsors are challenged to find the right valuation harmony and mix of long-term oriented investors. It could also spell the end of the 180-day lockup requirement for employee shareholders, putting them on equal terms with new investors at IPO, who are free to buy and sell shares as they please. We expect changes around the ways companies approach employee lock ups over the coming months.
D. EZ Pass Alternatives to the IPO Toll Road
This search for better pricing efficiency at issuance and minimized process friction has led to a hunt for alternatives to the traditional IPO. Over the last 18 months, we have seen the rise of the direct listing (e.g. Palantir, iHeartMedia, Slack) and, of course, the emergence of SPACs (“special purpose acquisition companies”) as a viable path to the public markets.
There have been more SPAC IPOs this year than in the last 5 years combined, and SPACs have represented nearly 50% of all IPOs in 2020 through Dec. 4 - the highest-ever concentration. While some have called the recent explosion in SPACs a fad, they are an innovative and attractive method for companies to go public, with less risk on valuation and more flexibility for management teams to negotiate deal terms. In choosing a SPAC, we encourage companies to consider size (amount of dilution they are willing to accept), the flexibility and value-add of the Sponsor, and of course the Sponsor’s track record with prior transactions.
Regardless of your view, SPACs will have an outsized impact on the public markets next year and perhaps beyond. There are now approximately 200 SPACs in the market looking for targets to take public, according to SPACInsider (as of Dec.14, 2020), whereas only 4 of the past 10 years featured more than 198 traditional IPOs (including 2020). This could drive a significant increase in the number of new public companies and has already ushered in a wave of companies – or entities – who have gone public at an earlier stage in their lifecycle than they might have otherwise.
At LionTree, we have been at the forefront of this trend, having been fortunate to act as financial advisor to Virgin Galactic, Skillz, and hims & hers, on their transactions, and to serve as underwriter to the Ajax I SPAC’s $750 million IPO. We also served as co-manager for several traditional IPOs this year, including GoodRx, Rackspace Technology, Lemonade, and Warner Music Group, helping issuers raise a collective $4 billion and build a solid foundation of long-term oriented shareholders.
Keeping an open mind to new possibilities, asking the right questions and seeking out wise advice has never been more vital, and LionTree’s Capital Markets Advisory service stands ready to help companies think through their strategic alternatives on their path to the public markets - whether that be traditional IPO, SPAC, Direct Listing - and beyond.
At the end of the day, regardless of whether a company chooses a traditional IPO, SPAC or direct listing, they have to live up to their valuation multiple, which is based on long term growth expectations. Once a company goes public, whatever path they took, they have to back up that growth under public scrutiny, and to me, it is a healthy dynamic to have public investors decide which companies gain investment dollars and which do not. If anything, SPACs and direct listings give companies more options to reach the public market. Nevertheless, once a company is public, the regulatory oversight, reporting requirements and investor scrutiny are the same. The difference between success and failure means delivering upon growth expectations. We expect investor patience in this regard to be tried and tested during 2021.
E. M&A Outlook: The Future Coming Into Shape
On the M&A front, we expect to see a strong renewal of deal activity over the second half of 2020 to continue into the new year. The market’s underlying M&A fundamental story, surprisingly, has never been more robust than it is today, even in the midst of a pandemic. Several factors are contributing to the vibrant deal environment: (i) historically low borrowing costs, (ii) meaningful cash capacity by private and public acquirers alike, (iii) the return to risk taking in the pursuit of growth and diversification, (iv) portfolio optimization by scaled players and (iv) the increasing divergence between the haves and have-nots between “COVID-19-proof” businesses and all others. The desire to drive growth and capture financial and strategic synergies are further enhanced by the improving economic and public health backdrop. We have seen various examples of each of the aforementioned strategies in 2020 and expect that to continue. Some select recent transactions include:
- Portfolio Optimization: ViacomCBS’s sale of Simon & Schuster to Bertelsmann; eBay’s sale of its digital classified business to Adevinta; IBM’s spin-off of its IT services unit; Telia divesting its 47% stake in Turkcell Holdings; AT&T’s rumored sale of DIRECTV
- Business Diversification and Drive for Complimentary Growth: Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of ARM; Pursuit of TikTok by Walmart and large technology platforms (both consumer and enterprise focused); Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack, Fox’s acquisition of Tubi; Verizon’s acquisition of BlueJeans; Lululemon’s acquisition of Mirror; Zynga’s acquisition of Peak Games; The New York Times’s acquisitions of Serial; and SiriusXM’s purchase of Stitcher; IAC’s video platform Vimeo’s investment from Thrive
- Strategic & Financial Synergies: UK merger of Virgin Media and O2UK; Liberty Global’s acquisition of Sunrise in Switzerland; Verizon’s acquisition of Tracfone; Scripps’ acquisition of ION Media; Just Eat Takeaway and GrubHub’s $7.3 billion merger
* Note: On the transactions above, LionTree was proud to have acted as financial advisor to ViacomCBS, eBay and Liberty Global on its UK merger of Virgin Media, and was an investor in Mirror.
IV. The New TMT Ecosystem
At LionTree, we have adapted alongside our clients to offer solutions for their unprecedented challenges, and I take great pride that our organization has truly become an advisor not simply for companies in technology, media, and telecommunications, but for all businesses in transition. Which increasingly is all businesses…
A new ecosystem is fast emerging, buttressed by advanced connectivity infrastructure and driven by direct-to-consumer platforms. New direct to consumer bundles are being created between the major players in distribution and content, examples of which include partnerships between Verizon and Disney+ and Discovery+, AT&T and HBO Max, T-Mobile and Netflix, and Hulu and Spotify. While the consumer services driving the bundles today are largely video-based, I expect gaming and audio to become more deeply integrated as well. Apple, for example, recently launched a bundle of its own services that includes Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, and Apple Music.
Many of the companies in this new TMT ecosystem have spent 2020 and a large part of the last decade in transition, but now - with networks reimagined, media renovated and technology permeating everything, they can optimistically look to 2021 as a year of moving beyond and moving forward, to a better version of themselves, open to reinvention and reacceleration.
The tone-setting move heading recently was Warner Bros’ bold announcement that it will release its full slate of films in 2021 on both its streaming platform and theaters simultaneously. It telegraphs just how thoroughly content and delivery are merging, and how AT&T is “all in” with HBO Max.
This breakthrough highlights the opportunities for (re)invention as we move into 2021 as well as the power of marrying distribution with proprietary content. It also poses many challenges by creating disruptions and opportunities for content creators, theatrical distributors but also highlighting the need for IP even for the most scaled of streaming platforms. By disrupting a media model built on windowing, it has pulled forward and concentrated the economics that used to be distributed amongst many players in the ecosystem.
Looking ahead, where will the long-tail of content come from? Perhaps from the “edge” communities and new media models will have to be created. The next chapter will be written by those who can take the best of their strategies and values and execute against them on a canvas filled with uncertainty.
A. Media’s Direct-To-Consumer Transformation Is Accelerating
Competition for consumer attention is at an all-time high – including a wealth of well-capitalized video services, social platforms, audio networks and gaming services – with massive audiences and robust mobile engagement. This is the new galaxy in which the contemporary consumer finds herself.
Perhaps the greatest shift within the media landscape over the last 12 months has been on the video side; look no further than the so-called “streaming wars”. As consumer behavior has shifted toward on-demand content over appointment viewing (encouraged by Netflix, much like Amazon trained consumers to expect next-day shipping), legacy media companies have now fully embraced the future. Innovation and disruption have gone in house. The days when a company had a digital division have yielded to the reality that every company lives in the digital economy.
Since last November, scaled media players like The Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal, and WarnerMedia have all launched new subscription video streaming platforms, underpinned with extensive content spend and existing content libraries. Disney’s announcement last week that it plans to release 100+ titles per year, with 80% going on one of its many direct-to-consumer platforms, and annual content spend on its Disney+ platform will reach $8-9 billion by FY2024 speaks to the power of a scaled player in motion and the immense value of its deep IP library. Apple Inc. rolled out with its own subscription service, focused on high-quality original content and sold as a bundle with its hardware. We have also seen ad-supported video platforms take center-stage this year, with Fox Corp’s acquisition of Tubi, Comcast Corp’s acquisition of Xumo, and fuboTV’s IPO, not to mention Cheddar and PlutoTV’s growing scale this year under new ownership (Altice USA and ViacomCBS, respectively).
We’ve also seen the growing emergence of stronger streaming video distributors: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire, Comcast’s X1. More than the new cable, these platforms have achieved scale by bundling together the growing number of streaming video services into a convenient user interface. And aside from selling the hardware, they are generating recurring revenue by selling monthly subscriptions to premium video channels, and they are even creating their own ad-supported “channels” from licensed content (e.g., The Roku Channel). If the platform provider can capture a large enough global scale of consumers who are using it as a bundling agent, then they can exert some degree of leverage over the suppliers of the content (e.g., to gain a pricing advantage or some other access differentiation).
Competition from technology and social media platforms has also intensified, most notably with the growth in popularity of TikTok and how quickly more legacy players adapted with similar features and functionality. Streaming media platforms from other players - like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Snap, and YouTube - have access to massive, global user bases, and they are accelerating their content investments to keep these user bases engaged. Several digital media companies, like Group Nine Media, have grown scaled video content powerhouses, built authentic brands, and attracted devoted fan-bases by leveraging social media platforms like IGTV and Snapchat for distribution. The nexus between media and tech is where the future of our attention lives.
As Streaming Wars Intensify, Legacy Media Companies Look To The Future
B. The Edge: The Infrastructure Migration
Our existing network was built for human to human connection and now needs to be rebuilt to handle the mass of data generated by machine to machine communication. The explosion of data usage, IoT and connected devices have pushed capacity utilization to the edge of our networks. 5G is an enabling technology that offers the prospect of substantially increased speeds while edge computing provides low latency computing power on the network which will drastically change certain industries over the next three to five years. The most complicated digital systems and most evolved 5G networks have to live somewhere, and that residence is increasingly closer to the user. This is the underlying infrastructure for the shift to the future and companies such as Verizon at scale and Fastly and Cloudflare are enabling this progression.
5G and edge computing work together to enhance the capacity of the network to host the countless number of connected devices on it, from sensors to autonomous vehicles to medical wearables. With more data-reliant devices surfacing on the network, the expectation of low latency in an always-on network becomes imperative. By bringing down network latency, this potent combination promises to revolutionize both enterprise and consumer applications, which allows for the creation of hitherto unthinkable use cases.
Similarly, cable operators are deploying their networks, positioning broadband at the edge of the network on a global scale. Internet access is now at the center of the cable value proposition, a bet that has paid off in spades during the pandemic, as connectivity has never been more important. Overall, cable plant rethink offers the bandwidth to reliably handle projected homeowner and enterprise demands over the next decade-plus, but should also inspire a wide range of new services, from enhanced video game streaming, to advanced videoconferencing and applications we have not yet dreamed of. This hasn't been lost on the market, as the stocks of cable pure-plays Charter Communications and Altice USA are outperforming the market. Incredibly, Charter’s stock is up +235% since it announced its intention to acquire Time Warner Cable in May 2015 (through Dec. 14, 2020), demonstrating the power of scale and reflecting management’s ability to execute. Those who lay foundations now will be poised for success in the future.
C. Building The Interactive Entertainment Metaverse
The explosion of interactive entertainment has been one of the biggest trends of 2020. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global video gaming industry, including mobile, cloud, and live-streaming, have experienced accelerated growth, engagement, and monetization as the pandemic has increased the amount of time people are spending in front of screens. This, coupled with the ease at which games can be developed and distributed has led to more people than ever experimenting with video games. The pool of addressable gamers has expanded, encompassing a wider range of age groups and more gender diversity than ever before.
The boom in video games, however, has not been solely driven by an expansion in time spent. Part of the transformation has been driven by a shift in a way people interact and entertain, a shift that the pandemic lifestyle has accelerated. And while we do expect a return to out-of-home entertainment (like live music and travel) to rebound in 2021, video games are here to stay as a form of interaction. I believe that people inherently yearn for meaningful communal interaction, and during the pandemic, we have seen the acceleration of interactive entertainment platforms being used as a conduit for bringing people together, in a virtual setting. For many users, it is becoming an increasingly vivid reality that gaming is the new internet: a place not just to visit, but where entire dimensions of life transpire.
Epic Games – the publisher of Fortnite and developer of the Unreal gaming engine – has been particularly innovative in the ways it leverages its platform and user base to drive engagement. Within its world, the company has live-streamed virtual concerts from Travis Scott and Marshmello that have each attracted more than 10 million players, and partnered with Disney to debut an in-game exclusive trailer ahead of the launch of the film, “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.” Roblox attracted nearly 1.2mn unique players to its platform when it hosted a fan meetup for pop singer Ava Max inside its virtual world. There have even been several instances this year of gamers conducting virtual weddings within Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
This so-called metaverse is the “future state” of Interactive Entertainment - it can leverage many game modes, forms of media, and IP within one environment, facilitating a prosperous in-game economy where users can transact and socialize. Examples of this in broader Media are the DC and Marvel universes, which have an expansive ecosystem of characters, including some of the most popular superheroes and a deeply engaged fan base. Over time, marquee platforms like Fortnite could become this new internet - where we spend our digital time, interacting with others and where concerts, films, new TV series premiere and even dating.
At LionTree, we believe in the metaverse - and gaming - as a core feature of the digital economy, and have invested in this outcome, launching the Griffin Gaming Fund, an interactive entertainment-focused venture firm, in partnership with industry veterans Phil Sanderson and Peter Levin, integrated with banking expertise led by LionTree’s Nick Tuosto. More broadly, the enormous demand for gaming content in the private and public markets shows no signs of slowing down. Epic Games has reportedly been valued by the private markets this year at $17bn. Unity, a software company that makes tools for developers to create console, mobile and PC titles, went public this summer in an IPO that raised $1.3bn and valued the company at $13.7bn - and is now valued at over $45bn by the public markets (as of Dec. 14, 2020). Many well-known gaming companies around the globe have also committed to paths to go public via SPAC transactions as well, including the completed SPAC transactions of Rush Street Interactive and Golden Nugget Online Gaming, as well as the announced SPAC transaction of Skillz, where LionTree is acting as financial advisor.
Looking ahead, I expect the accelerated growth, engagement, and monetization of the interactive entertainment sector to lead to increasing strategic activity and even more companies looking to the public markets for opportunities to trade at premiums within the gaming sector compared to private valuations.
D. Music and Audio Evolution: The “Ear” Remains Undervalued
Amidst the transformations reshaping the video industry, only a handful of major media companies are focused on the rapidly expanding Audio opportunity, and they are largely audio pure-plays. Companies like iHeartMedia, SiriusXM, and Spotify are investing in and leading the evolution of audio, focused on music streaming (on-demand and lean-back modalities), podcasting and content production. The New York Times is one of the very few “non-audio” focused media companies that is looking to podcasting as the future of storytelling (as seen by their acquisition of podcast production studio Serial Productions and Audm, a company that turns long form journalism into audio). We expect Amazon and other platform players to pursue strategic investments in the audio space in the coming year as an integral part of the consumer offering in the coming year.
On the music recording & publishing side, investors have acknowledged the tremendous value in audio content, with Warner Music Group’s successful IPO (+32% since listing and valued at $17bn as of Dec. 14, 2020) and Vivendi’s sale of a 10% stake in Universal Music Group to Tencent (valuing the label at $34bn). We have also seen the monetization of artists’ songwriting catalogs for tremendous sums this year (Bob Dylan/Universal Music; Stevie Nicks/Primary Wave; Taylor Swift/Scooter Braun/Shamrock Holdings), validating the economic and cultural value of music.
Trend-wise, Spanish-language music continues to take off in the English-speaking world, feeding cross-cultural opportunities. In January, Saban Music Group launched with a $500mm commitment from Saban in partnership with Universal Music Group with a heavy focus on Latin-urban music, and in November, hip-hop pioneer Cash Money Records – the independent label that launched Drake, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, to name a few - announced the creation of a Latin music division, focused on the fusion between Rap and Latin Pop.
Audio is about much more than content and distribution. Artists are increasingly turning to music-focused software platforms and toolkits like Splice for royalty-free samples and instrumentals, changing the creative process. Companies such as HIFI are leading the fintech revolution in music, helping artists organize their financial rights and royalties. Even short-form audio adult entertainment companies like Quinn and Dipsea are set to revolutionize an enormous industry, redefining pleasure for the masses (or so my friends have told me).
Despite being one of the oldest forms of media, audio assets and the greater opportunity remain undervalued. Audio will be a key component of the next wave of content and consumption, and it is set to continue to grow, even given the outsized attention and investment dollars lavished on the video industry due to the content spending habits of Netflix and the existential threat it has posed to the media industry for the last decade. More step-changes to come as the industry consolidates and the spending and monetization gap compared to video content narrows.
V. The Digital Economy
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce, and there is tremendous energy and investment devoted recently to what the intersection of retail, distribution and media might look like in the future. This is an area particularly ripe for reinvention.
Within e-commerce, one of the biggest overarching themes we focus on at LionTree is the digitalization of consumer businesses. It is one of the most profound meta-stories of our moment, and the key to understanding where the economy is moving next. The legacy media industry was one of the first to be impacted by this broader market shift, but it will not be the last. Software and tech DNA is increasingly being woven into the foundational strategies of a wide range of industries.
A. E-Commerce At Scale
The share of total retail sales transacted digitally has steadily risen over the last two decades, but the pandemic has significantly accelerated online penetration trends. In the U.S. alone, online reached 19.3% of total retail sales in Q3 2020, according to the Commerce Department, up from 15.5% in Q3 last year and nearly double what it was 5 years ago (10.1%). Anecdotally, an entire generation of older people and less tech-savvy individuals across the world were forced to order essential supplies and groceries online for the first time ever this year. E-commerce adoption does not look likely to slow down any time soon.
Although the scaled retail “everything stores” continue to dominate the consumer e-commerce market, led by Amazon and Walmart, the growing adoption of e-commerce has been robust enough over the past few years to support several vertical-specific players. These digital-first, direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) platforms have flourished by focusing on a specific market segment, rethinking the customer experience, and building community around their brand. Some examples include Warby Parker (eyewear), Harry’s (personal care), Chewy (pets), Thrive Market (organic grocery), Wayfair (home decor), and Kaval and Rent The Runway (beauty/fashion/apparel). Looking ahead, I expect to see more DTC e-commerce brands flourish, especially in the first-half of 2021, as pandemic purchasing behavior settles into habit and the path to reopening brick and mortar specialty stores remains uncertain.
Luxury fashion, in particular, is one vertical that I think will experience accelerated e-commerce volumes in 2021. Historically, luxury brands have been late to embrace e-commerce, as digital storefronts and anonymous sellers clashed with the industry’s emphasis on experience and exclusivity, and in some cases, allowed counterfeiters to thrive. But, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed just how important e-commerce is to the future of luxury goods. Global online luxury purchases were worth $58bn in 2020 through mid-November (23% penetration), compared with $39bn in 2019 (12% penetration), according to Bain & Co. data. We expect this category to continue to thrive in the coming years as the luxury industry embraces technology more fully.
Social commerce is another theme I see taking hold more firmly in 2021+. Social media and digital advertising companies – notably Facebook, Alphabet, Pinterest and TikTok – are building more tools to enable and integrate shopping / selling capabilities for all users on their platforms. Facebook has partnered with software companies Shopify and BigCommerce to help small businesses turn their social media presence into digital storefronts. Walmart’s announced investment in TikTok this summer speaks to both companies’ interest in social commerce and suggests they see it as an important avenue for their future growth. People turn to social media and search platforms for inspiration, recommendations from their networks, and product research. Over time, this user intent will be increasingly funneled into purchase behavior. This convergence is happening before our eyes, and it is one to watch closely.
B. The Tech Regulatory Environment
In October, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee released a report on “Big Tech,” the most significant government investigation into U.S. technology firms since Microsoft in the 1990s. In it, the Committee concluded that Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet/Google have monopoly power in their key business segments and have abused their marketplace position to achieve anti-competitive dominance. To remedy the current situation, they proposed measures such as reforming antitrust laws and possibly even breaking the companies up in what they refer to as “structural separations”. In addition to the U.S. scrutiny in tech, the EU will likely be demonstrating more substantive action as we saw recently with the proposed digital tax.
While the report provides only a high-level assessment of the competitive landscape, with recommendations that could serve as guidance for future legislation, there is bipartisan support for continued reforms in the tech landscape, and there are a number of lawsuits and investigations that have been piling up against Big Tech companies at the federal and state level. Earlier this month, the FTC and a coalition of attorneys general from 48 states and territories filed two separate antitrust lawsuits against Facebook, alleging anti-competitive conduct that could result in requiring Facebook to divest WhatsApp and Instagram.
The new U.S. Congress, which convenes in January, will likely have tech reform at the top of their agenda, since it resonates with both sides of the aisle. We have always said it is inevitable that U.S. technology companies do get regulated, but I think it is more probable to remain a headline risk for Big Tech and would be surprised if any substantive action were to be taken in terms of break ups. One policy area where I think we could see reforms is Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which has implications for how social media companies moderate and police content, and has faced criticism from politicians on both sides of the aisle.
C. Pandemic Paradigm Shifts: FinTech, EdTech, Health & Wellness Tech, Online Travel, FoodTech
Technology-enablement is now driving significant changes to industries – like Finance, Education, Health & Wellness, and Travel – and is also sparking innovation in Food to create new healthy and sustainable protein alternatives as well as cold storage solutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of these sectors, and we at LionTree are proud to support the continued growth of several businesses in these critical sectors, driven by a bias towards transformation.
- FinTech: The financial services industry continues to attract tech companies that transform how people and businesses spend, save, borrow, invest, and more. A particular hallmark of best-in-class fintech companies is their application of technology like AI to a specific element of the finance industry value chain to create innovative solutions that optimize and improve a pre-existing process and the customer experience. Cross River, a company in which LionTree has proudly invested, has built a banking-as-a-platform service platform that allows other fintech companies to plug-in and access multiple banking services that they can customize for their own client bases. Lemonade has leveraged AI to make booking renters’ and homeowners’ insurance a quick and frictionless process.Public.com has built a brokerage platform that allows people of all backgrounds to seamlessly invest in stocks, as well as exchange ideas and talk about business and financial news. Sweden’s Klarna offers shoppers interest-free financing on retail purchases over a period of installments, and demonstrates that not all technological innovation is born in Silicon Valley.
- EdTech: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need and global under-investment in technological processes and resources to improve education. Many of us with children have learned first-hand this year that schools, teachers and students were not at all ready for a sudden move to online teaching, which was expected to be years away. That day in the future has arrived in our present. I anticipate accelerated digitalization of this sector, as digital spend on education inflects in the coming years (digital just ~2.5% of total global education spend, pre-COVID). Outside of tech-enabled improvements to the K-12 and university-level learning experiences, a major trend I see gaining steam in the sector is towards leveraging digital platforms to facilitate upskilling and training – outside of the traditional education ecosystem – to better prepare individuals for the workforce and/or provide them with the skills they need to accelerate their career development. Chegg, which is best-known for its digital and physical textbook rentals and online tutoring, has been a leader in this area, with its recent acquisitions of Mathway and Thinkful. Joytunes, an Israeli VC-backed company, is revolutionizing the at home music learning process through their proprietary gamified interface aiming to be the “Netflix” platform for education.
- Health & Wellness: This is one of the last multi-trillion dollar markets yet to be disrupted, and is still dominated by physical doctors’ offices, clinics, and gyms… but that is changing. Just as mobile devices and cloud computing technology have empowered on-demand and frictionless transactions in sectors like video (Netflix), music (Spotify), transportation (Uber), sports betting (DraftKings), and insurance (Lemonade), I believe mental health (Calm, Headspace), digital health (Oura), and wellness (Noom) are the next industries to be completely digitized. Look at companies such as Oscar who have taken the ambitious leap to simplify and streamline the broken U.S. health insurance industry via innovative tech and a consumer-friendly brand. Wearable device company Whoop and Mirror (both LionTree investments) gained rapid adoption this year as consumers increasingly embrace the use of data and technology to optimize their body’s performance.
○ Underlining their early success, Whoop achieved a $1.2B valuation this October, and Mirror secured an impressive exit in its sale to athleisure company Lululemon this June. The traditional healthcare vertical is poised for digital transformation as well, and this year we have seen unprecedented levels of investment and maturation in the space, from the IPOs of GoodRx (LionTree acted as co-manager) and Amwell, to the merger of Teladoc and Livongo, to the pending acquisition of hims & hers by the Oaktree Acquisition Corp SPAC in a go-public transaction (LionTree is advising hims & hers management).
- Sports: Live sports, which by all measures was operating at its peak prior to COVID, was upended by the pandemic. From Little League to the Olympics, no organization was spared. Whether it was no games to games in a bubble, we lost one of our great global communal rituals. However, what the pandemic has wrought is not so much a complete re-ordering of sports, and related fitness and wellness, but rather an acceleration of many trends that were already accumulating just below the surface. Sports were bound to change. We watch, consume and participate largely in the same ways we have for decades. Few sectors could match that claim. Generational change and technology have long knocked on the door of sports transformation and now they will finally break through. The estimated $12.6bn already invested in sports technology companies is one signal. The rise of personalized streaming, augmented reality, e-sports, sports betting, biometric access, and connected fitness are examples of many more. This will be an exciting moment for this industry and one that will lend itself to incredible investment opportunities that we aim to be a larger part of early next year. We are proud to have recently advised Excel Sports Management on its agreement to sell a strategic minority investment to Shamrock Capital, which will allow the agency to tap into some of these new areas of development at the intersection of the sports and media landscape. We are also an investor in fuboTV through our merchant bank, which completed its IPO in Q4 and recently announced exciting plans to develop a sports betting offering.
- Digital Identity + Health: The pandemic has made “trusted identity” an even important consideration for consumers and business. Companies like CLEAR are rising to the challenge with next generation digital identity platforms. CLEAR is well positioned to extend its leadership position in the travel segment to broader consumer and enterprise applications, with the pandemic accelerating the already large market opportunity in front of the company. Biometric identification technology platforms are the way of the future, not just for access and payments at airports or stadiums, but to accelerate the opportunity for workforce and venue transparency in a way that might not have existed before. Our digital identity will become a core component of who we are.
- Online Travel & Tourism Technology: After the pandemic, people will travel again, and I would argue that after months of quarantining at home, experiencing the sights, people and culture of the world’s iconic destinations will be in high demand. While 2020 has undoubtedly been a challenging year for the travel sector, I would count on the tech-enabled online travel platforms to rebound strongly once the pandemic is under control. OTAs like Booking Holdings, Expedia, and TripAdvisor are among the most innovative and consumer-focused companies in the digital economy. Airbnb has just gone public in a $3.7 billion IPO, valuing the company at $47 billion, a huge vote of confidence in the sectors (as well as the company’s) long-term viability from public market investors. LionTree has invested in GetYourGuide, an exciting digital marketplace to search for and book one-of-a-kind travel experiences, giving the whole world access to incredible tours and attractions. I expect these online travel platforms will lead the recovery of global tourism in 2021+ and will likely play a central part in the continued consolidation of the industry.
- Food Tech & Supply: A growing interest in personal health, animal welfare, and climate and sustainability (global food systems are responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions) concerns have all driven companies to harness technology to develop alternative proteins. The pandemic also brought this trend into focus early on when our food supply chains strained against the pressures of the shutdown. Early pioneers such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have popularized plant-based meat substitutes while others include Yofix (a LionTree investment), maker of dairy-free yogurt products, Memphis Meats, creator of lab grown / cultured meat products, Good Catch Foods, the vegan “seafood” brand, and Coconut Bliss, the plant-based ice cream company (now majority owned by HumanCo, a LionTree investment). Alternative “milk” products - like oat milk and oat ice cream from Oatly (also a LionTree investment) - have also flourished, growing to a ~$2 billion market in the US, or ~13% the size of the US dairy milk industry. The pandemic accelerated the demand for these types of food alternatives (as it highlighted the risk of animal-to-human disease transfer), and AI has now infiltrated many parts of the manufacturing, production and delivery/storage process.
- Space & Aerospace: A confluence of factors is driving a new “space race”, bringing us closer and closer to more fulsome exploration and exploitation of the “final frontier”. Rapidly declining satellite production and rocket launch costs are lowering the barrier to entry, while U.S. regulation in the space ecosystem (notably, 2015’s Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act) is playing a part in increasing private company accessibility to space. The result has been a proliferation of new entrants, powered by private capital and creativity, fueling space tourism (Virgin Galactic), space exploration (Blue Origin, SpaceX), and commercial launch services (Virgin Orbit, Relativity Space). It has also led to innovation in the flagship communications satellite services business led by Viasat, among others. Changes in business models and technology will also allow for “proof of concept” earlier in the development cycle, driving interest and capital within a new investor base.
VI. LionTree’s “+” Moment
The new ecosystem is taking shape all around us: digitization is the whirlwind that is remaking the landscape, even as 5G and broadband lay the infrastructure for tomorrow. The DTC + services have already altered how we consume content and forced companies to innovate and deliver more. In this world, the + is essential. The sum of these changes is that events don’t follow algorithms and fundamentals are predictive but not prophetic. A world that is opening and closing in unexpected ways requires farsighted flexibility. Nobody can predict when the next wave will come, or what it will look like. But the wise carry a surfboard, just in case.
The pandemic has made our constellation of communities and networks coalesce and grow stronger. LionTree might be best known for our work on core sub-sectors of global media, content and distribution, but we also continue to devote our focus and capital to areas like audio (via our MUSIC partnership), gaming (via Griffin), and investing alongside clients, friends and legends alike.
Kindred, LionTree’s expressions ecosystem and digital media consultancy platform, including our daily newsletter, is driven by our commitment to the intersection of culture and community. Our podcasts like KindredCast and the VaizeyView host conversations that give voice and texture to the latest news. After years of the news media shadow-boxing with President Trump, I believe that rethinking is in order: towards the edge consumer, emerging from the populace and locally focused (companies such as Brut, ATTN, Axios, and GB News out of the UK). Kindred Media’s investment and partnership with The Baer Faxt, a leading weekly newsletter covering the art world, also reflects attention to an industry we believe is ripe for reinvention. Kindred will further expand on our thesis going into Q12021 with further collaborations and interests in this space.
In addition to our ever-expanding M&A Advisory business, LionTree’s Capital Markets service stands ready to help companies think through their strategic alternatives on their path to the public markets - whether that be traditional IPO or SPAC and beyond. For traditional IPOs, we operate as part of the syndicate as a co-manager, and focus on connecting issuers to the core nucleus of the most-influential investors who dominate an IPO’s value creation. For SPACs, we counsel companies who plan to go public, underwrite SPAC IPOs, and advise SPACs on finding and acquiring a target company. Our model is motivated by achieving the optimal outcome for the issuer and will remain a committed partner, as we view a public offering as simply “step one” in the next leg of a company’s journey.
LionTree’s Merchant Bank invests our capital alongside clients, family offices and entrepreneurs. We leverage all facets of our business to explore new thematics and geographies while driving insights and innovation. Our portfolio is a balance of LionTree's history and future with investments in Sports & Music but also expansion into the Future of Food and Fintech, all while co-investing with clients and close relationships. We are also exploring Emerging Industries in Urban Mobility, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, while looking at the stars and investing in the burgeoning Space industry.
I want to leave you with the story of Ichiwa. You might not have heard of it, or seen it on the Fortune 500. It is a small mochi shop in Kyoto, and it won’t be a target of the latest SPAC but it’s been in business for over a thousand years. It is one of 19 such millennia old businesses in Japan. A professor interviewed by the New York Times to comment on this astounding longevity explained, “Their No. 1 priority is carrying on,” he added. “Each generation is like a runner in a relay race. What’s important is passing the baton.” Naomi Hasegawa, whose family has owned Ichiwa for ten centuries, explained “To survive for a millennium, a business cannot just chase profits. It has to have a higher purpose.”
That is our mandate as well. Our success is tied to the grace and grit with which we prioritize succession: the world as we leave it, not the world as we found it. Passing the torch is essential for keeping it lit. LionTree’s pipeline going into the new year is stronger than ever. What has become crystal clear is that not only the medium and message matter, but that the messenger does as well. Credibility and conviction, adaptability and authenticity, are qualities that are evergreen but are in particular season these days. Let’s begin anew, again. What comes next is up to us. Focus on the future and make life where you are. Be adaptable to changes and be with your communities. As we roar into the 2020’s, we are turbocharged by trust and catalyzed by curiosity.
The Roman philosopher and emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Most of what we say and do is not essential.” We no longer have that luxury. The era of the essential is here. May the coming year be one of healing and reinvention.
See you in 2021+
Aryeh B. Bourkoff
CEO | LionTree LLC
One of the silver linings of this year has been the incredible amount of time opened up by lack of travel, business dinners, and the like. I imagine I’m not alone in admitting that I loved every minute of bingeing on my favorite shows and spending nights at home reading - a lot.
Despite not being able to record live and in person, I had the great pleasure of interviewing incredible leaders this past year on our KindredCast Series including to name a few; cities advocate, Author and Professor Geoffrey West, tennis legend and investor Serena Williams, Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg, philanthropist and supermodel Naomi Campbell, former UK PM Tony Blair in conversation with our EIR Lord Ed Vaizey, FinTech’s pandemic super star Gilles Gade of Cross River Bank, and art advisor Josh Baer and Jackie Reses on how the crisis is changing the face of the global art market.
Hope you enjoy all the content shared below.
- Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope into Action; A Memoir - David Fajgenbaum
- Elizabeth I CEO: Strategic Lessons From The Leader Who Built An Empire - Alan Axelrod
- Every Life is on Fire: How Thermodynamics Explains the Origins of Living Things - Jeremy England
- The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism - Yuval Levin
- The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Businesses, Technologies and Our Lives - Peter Diamandis
- The Home We Build Together - Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l
- Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’s Blindness Into an Extraordinary Vision for Life - Sanford Greenberg
- Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People - Mahzarin Banaji & Anthony Greenwald
- The Infinite Game - Simon Sinek
- The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About Itself - Andrew Pettegree
- Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor E. Frankl
- Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side - Howard Marks
- Never Lost Again: The Google Mapping Revolution That Sparked New Industries and Augment Our Reality - Bill Kilday
- Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America - Weijan Shan
- The Powers That Be - David Halberstam
- The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good - Michael Sandel
- Viruses, Pandemics, and Immunity - Arup K. Chakraborty & Andrey Shaw
- Which Side of History?: How Technology Is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives - Jim Steyer
- You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters - Kate Murphy
- And lastly… watch if you haven’t yet - Dave Chappelle’s 8:46 Special [YouTube]
To keep up with the latest from LionTree and Kindred Media please follow along on social media
This letter is provided by LionTree LLC solely for informational purposes and is provided as of the date indicated above. LionTree is not providing or undertaking to provide any financial, economic, legal, accounting, tax or other advice or recommendation in or by virtue of this letter. The information, statements, comments, views, and opinions provided in this letter are general in nature and (i) are not intended to be and should not be construed as the provision of investment advice by LionTree, (ii) do not constitute and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action, and (iii) may not be current. LionTree does not make any representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any of the information, statements, comments, views or opinions contained in this letter, and any liability therefor (including in respect of direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage of any kind whatsoever) is expressly disclaimed. LionTree does not undertake any obligation whatsoever to provide any form of update, amendment, change or correction to any of the information, statements, comments, views, or opinions set forth in this letter.