Three Things (May 20th)

Thursday, May 20th 2021

Commentary

“All that seems like error is not error; it all has to be done. That which seems like a false step is the next step.” - Agnes Martin

1) Google announces new health tool to identify skin conditions, potentially pointing to ambitions in difficult-to-disrupt healthcare market

Google continues its foray into healthcare with a tool that uses AI to help self-diagnose hundreds of skin conditions - a use case whose frequency and importance was likely revealed by the company’s massive capabilities on the data front. This reinforces our view that Google’s search business is not just a formidable business in its own right, but also can play a critical role in informing the company’s efforts in non-search related verticals. With the launch of Derm Assist (pilot to be launched later this year), Google is advancing its position in the lucrative and massive healthcare industry, which has to-date proven to be one of the most resistant to tech-driven disruption.

2) Cryptocurrencies tumble as Chinese regulatory action adds fuel to recent outpour of negative sentiment

After regulators in China banned financial institutions from handling cryptocurrency transactions, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies sank to recent lows, with crypto-related stocks Coinbase and Square similarly taking a hit. While the price of bitcoin is still up almost 280% year-to-date, the cryptocurrency took a steep dive to its lowest point since January, briefly flirting with the $30,000 price point before surging back upwards to prior day levels. While the recent volatility has been eye-popping on an absolute level, we would note that it seems normal for the asset class and in-line with prior corrections in the space.

3) The case for direct listings falters as Squarespace falls 13% on public market debut

On Wednesday, web-hosting platform Squarespace went public via a direct listing, an alternative to the traditional IPO path to public liquidity that has seen its popularity rise in recent months. One of the cruxes of direct listings’ popularity is that it takes the price-setting aspect required by IPOs out of the equation, opting instead to let supply and demand drive price discovery. While there are many advantages to that, as Squarespace has found, it can also mean less institutional support for the stock on day one of trading - something that shouldn’t matter all too much in the long run, but can result in less-than-favorable optics on market debut.

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