EIEIO…2024 In Review
Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Education, Impact, and Opportunity
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“Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster. They tell you nothing about the future.” – Warren Buffett
”You can’t use an old map to explore a new World.” – Albert Einstein
”Trying to predict the future is like driving down a country road at night with no lights looking out the rearview mirror.” – Peter Drucker
January 1, 2025
With the ball dropping down the flagpole at midnight in Times Square, 2024 is a wrap. And what a wrap it was.
Before the New Year even started, during the Dead Week between Christmas and January 1st, when many were walking the beach in Cabo or swishing the slopes in Colorado, the New York Times dropped a bomb and sued Microsoft and OpenAI for copyright infringement.
For the people who were actually reading their news feeds, many thought this was just a way for the NYT to extract some quick ransom money from deep-pocketed defendants. What became clear was the lawsuit was far more spiritual, philosophical, and serious. You can only push the Gray Lady so far until she says “Enough is enough.”
Like the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which started as a barely-intriguing, minor-league burglary and snowballed into President Nixon’s resignation two years later, the suit between content creators and AI platform aggregators started to show some real consequences over the course of the year.
At stake was the fundamental importance of high-quality journalism for society, and that these platforms treat original content as a commodity. Ironic and hypocritical at the same time, these platforms quickly sue others for patent infringement on their proprietary technology. It’s especially rich that one offender started out claiming to be an altruistic non-profit, only to abandon those principles when it became convenient and lucrative. By year end, some were saying this was the new Napster.
2024’s starting gun effectively went off in Las Vegas with the Consumer Electronic Show aka CES. In the second week of January, a record 200,000 tech aficionados came to showcase their latest gadgets and gizmos that promised to rock the World.
Predictably, everything was about AI. AI PCs. AI Phones. AI Homes. AI Health. AI Wealth.
Whether called a Copilot, Study Buddy, Personal Coach, or Virtual Chief of Staff, the concept was the same...AI had reached a point where everyday people could use it to live more effectively and efficiently.
When ChatGPT was introduced in November 2022, it was the best magic trick anybody had ever seen. 2023 was about AI in the cloud. 2024 was the year AI became AIR…invisible, ubiquitous, and necessary to live.
After having surged 246% and joining the trillion-dollar market cap club in 2023, The King of GPUs – aka NVIDIA – was put on notice by AMD and Intel at CES – they were going to enthusiastically join the AI Party. Not great for NVIDIA, but great for the market (see the other 18 Biggest Generative AI Companies here).
The undisputed star of the CES show was the Sphere, the futuristic 18,000-seat immersive entertainment venue that opened with U2 in Fall 2023. This architectural marvel provided a glimpse into what is possible when technology and creativity converge.
Next, Super Bowl LVIII came to the “City of Lost Wages,” with the Miami Dolphins facing the San Francisco 49ers. With a shootout between two of the most prolific offenses in the NFL, Vegas bettors set the record for the highest over/under total of 60.5. The Fins, with their “Evil Genius” Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio, foiled the Niners and those that took the “over” as the Dolphins brought home the Lombardi Trophy, winning 34-20.
February was also the month when the Celebrity Wedding of 2024 happened in Rochester, Minnesota when Cole Kramer and Katie Miller, College Football’s Travis and Taylor, did their nuptials. (Disclosure: I’m Cole Kramer’s Uncle).
On February 10, the Year of the Dragon began in China, wishing good luck and prosperity to the World. Appropriately, My Pet Dragon was the Hit Musical of the year and opened in Atlanta in the Summer of 2024 (Disclosure: I’m Maggie Moe’s Dad).
Sports continued to boom, both as a form of entertainment and a landing pad for investment dollars. If there’s any question about the popularity of the NFL, the top 10 TV shows in the country are all about football.
Professional sports franchises were once thought of as vanity investments. However, over the past decade, professional sports teams’ values have increased significantly, with the NBA franchises up nearly 400%, the NFL 215% and the NHL increasing over 200%, far outperforming the S&P 500. Over 63 sports teams have private equity affiliation, with over $200 billion of market value.
Heretofore, the only league that prevented ownership by private equity was the NFL, which under pressure from its owners relented in 2024 with both the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks bought by institutional investors. Arctos Capital partnered with the First Family of Football…the Mannings…to buy the Saints for a then-record $6.5 billion. As the value of these teams skyrocketed, the pool of billionaires who could afford to purchase shrunk, motiving the NFL to open up to private equity.
Not to be outdone, in May, Blackstone teamed up with Nike Founder Phil Knight to purchase both the Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers for $11 billion from the Paul Allen estate. It was rumored that both Saudi’s Sovereign Fund PIF and Qatar’s QIA were rebuffed as aspiring owners.
The most surprising activity of private equity and sports took place in College Athletics. Universities were forced to reimagine their relationships with student-athletes in the era of NIL, the transfer portal, and mega TV deals. Most provocative was Florida State spinning out its $165 million revenue athletic department, with a minority ownership acquired by Weatherford Capital. This action created FOMO with both athletic departments and private equity firms, with many more transactions in the queue.
Feeding off the pioneering partnership between private school behemoth Nord Anglia and IMG Academy, other school operators looked for industry leaders to create a differentiated value proposition. Dubai-based GEMS, the largest private school operator in the World, launched GR8 Schools, aligning with the jobs of the future.
Several ongoing trends contributed to some of the biggest changes of 2024. A stunning 70% of American adults are overweight or obese. Fortunately, the data suggests that Gen Z takes their health more seriously than past generations.
Millennials and Gen Z are all in on wellness. They drink less, exercise more, and take their vitamins. They are buying the idea of the “quantified self” and using wearable technology (i.e., Whoop, Oura, Q Collar) to gather ongoing data streams that allow them to better understand their bodies.
The boom in weight loss drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy (both Novo Nordisk), is evidence that people want to be thinner, and it’s easier to take a pill vs. sweating on a treadmill. 2024 saw a wave of new weight loss drugs, with the most popular being Zepbound and Mounjaro (both Eli Lilly). Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly were up 51% and 60% in 2023, and they continued to outperform in 2024.
Contributing to an overweight America is the fact that adults have gone from spending 13 hours a week online 15 years ago to 13 hours a day today.
On the consumer front, people continued to spend more time shopping online. E-commerce went from 2% of overall retail sales 20 years ago to 20% in 2024. Shopping malls increasingly became showrooms and community lifestyle centers. The Black Friday brawls at the local Walmart that used to make the 6 o’clock news have disappeared.
Seeing a glimpse of the future a decade ago, the “Great Mall” of China was being converted into learning centers. With shopping center occupancy plummeting in the United States, a similar conversion continued apace. “Shop ‘till you drop” is being replaced by “learn ‘til you earn” and “drink while you try to think (or dink)”.
The combination of “living at work” and spending more than half of the day in front of a computer resulted in a boom in social sports. Pickleball, the “snowboarding of tennis,” continued to grow in popularity, but was joined by the rise of other social sports that you used to only find on ESPN8 “The Ocho.”
What’s referred to as the “Pickleball Effect” of technology amplifying sports spread to other sports. For example, Padel proliferated across the US, moving beyond Brooklyn and Miami, providing another proof point that the social-active trend is moving up and to the right. Cornhole, Spikeball, and Topgolf are all part of this trend.
Mental health issues in 2024 went from smelling smoke to a five-alarm fire. The combination of the amount of time spent online, COVID, snowplow parenting, overprescribed antidepressants, and the rise of negative media are all factors leading to this crisis.
Serious, scary problems have existed from the beginning of time. But today’s youth get bombarded by sensationalized information. Some of the results of this crisis: 8% of Americans say they have no close friends. 45% of U.S. undergraduates have some form of mental illness. Nearly 200,000 Americans died from alcohol, drugs, and suicide in 2023.
A paradox is that 56% of couples meet online, but nearly 90% of Gen Z says they’re fed up with dating apps. Gen Z is so over it that 30% of them said they’d rather walk across hot coals than go on another online date. Bumble continued to languish down 80% since its IPO price, while Match Group stalled out.
Community creates immunity, and this trend was on fire in 2024. Soho House (doing over $1B in revenue), The Arts Club in Dubai, and the Mission Capitalist Club in Philadelphia continued to thrive, with growing waitlists. Unlike the traditional Country Club of old with pools, golf courses, and tennis courts, these clubs thrive because they create connectivity amongst people who want to meet interesting folks.
Legacy media continued to struggle, searching desperately for how to stay relevant. Early in the year, it was rumored that Warner Brothers was going to merge with Paramount – viewed by most as two aging nursing home patients getting married so they wouldn’t have to die alone.
Doing its best to resuscitate the Mouse after losing over 60% of its value in the past couple of years, Disney saw its future in games and bought Electronic Arts for $50 billion, despite an earlier leak that it was going to acquire Roblox.
In a blockbuster deal, Apple bought Disney, combining two of America’s most beloved brands. Just to give perspective on what a monster Apple has become, this purchase was only 5% of Apple’s Market Cap (in a relatively smaller transaction, Apple bought Peloton earlier in the year as a tuck-in for its fitness ambitions).
In many ways, this was the classic general fighting the last war. The future action is all around the individual creators. Mr. Beast’s subscriber count grew by over 50%, reaching nearly 350 million subscribers thanks in part to his growing portfolio of Beast-branded CPG items. Dude Perfect continued to be the top alternative media for men under 30.
Political commentators Megyn Kelly and Tucker Carlson (whose interview with Trump got over 230 million views on X) grew in popularity as distrust of traditional news networks spiked during election season. Chris Cuomo successfully went independent after News Nation failed to woo moderates – making himself the first major political commentator on the Left to do so.
Freed from his Swedish captors, Joe Rogan leveraged the value of his enormous reach (15 million subscribers) to launch the JRE Network. He introduced an array of specialized podcasts, exclusive video series, and engaging digital experiences, alongside an e-commerce venture featuring branded merchandise, supplements, and fitness programs.
China has been successfully fighting a silent war with the US, led by its “Weapon of Mass Distraction” TikTok. The infiltration initially was stealthy, but in 2024 it became overt when it became common knowledge that the Chinese version limited screen time and prioritized education, while toxicity ran rampant on the version served to the rest of the World. This mockery highlighted an opportunity.
Finally, we saw the creation of a short-form video competitor out of the USA that was a tool for good. This "Weapon of Mass Instruction" was one of the greatest developments of the year, showing that even though the information well had been poisoned, it wasn’t too late to dig a new one.
College education remained under attack in 2024 and elite institutions were fighting battles on multiple fronts. Only 41% of young Americans say a college degree is very important, down from 74% only a decade prior. The 2023 Congressional testimony of the Presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn where they collectively said it depended on “context” whether students calling for the murdering of a particular race was acceptable or not pricked the balloon that had been ready to pop for a while. There are 4,500 universities, but only 1 point of view. Applications to Harvard plummeted by 30%.
Increasingly, it became evident there was a bad “product-market fit” from universities where 91% of their customers (students) said the reason they were going to college was to get a good job, yet only 15% of the professors thought that was their customer’s primary objective. Moreover, 85% of students said they wanted real work experience but only 10% of colleges provided that opportunity. HireEd became a major opportunity for HigherEd where learning turned into earning.
In a World that was changing before our eyes, the necessity of Lifelong Learning became clearer than ever. No longer able to merely fill up their “Knowledge Tank” until age 25 and drive off through life, people needed to learn on an ongoing basis just to stay in the game. But it couldn’t be done the way it was in the past, because people couldn’t simply drop out of life every year or two to refresh their skill set. Coursera and Emeritus were major beneficiaries of this trend (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Coursera and Emeritus).
Similar to staying physically fit, learning must happen every day. Accordingly, “Invisible Learning” became a major trend which is the idea of learning in your natural course of life…playing games, doing sports, listening to podcasts while working out. Duolingo continued to thrive, teaching people languages while playing games and using AI smartly to create a more engaging experience.
Launched in the Spring with a price tag of $3,500, Apple's Vision Pro may not have sold like hotcakes, but it represented a significant leap in integrating virtual and augmented reality into our daily routines. A major application was in the area of learning where companies such as Dreamscape provided an immersive, “Hollywood meets Harvard” experience that showed dramatic educational impact (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Dreamscape Learn).
Then there was School Choice. Charter Schools, Home Schools, vouchers, and micro schools continued to be a 30-year overnight success with tremendous bipartisan support. The school choice movement has considerable momentum; in a country where some people can’t agree on what day of the week it is, roughly 3 in 4 adults support school choice.
The entrenched status quo (another name for “unions”) said, “Give us more time and more money and we will fix it.” The good news was that the American people said 200 years is long enough and demanded change in our education system.
There are now over nearly 8,000 charter schools with nearly 4 million students. ESAs (Education Savings Accounts) have added fuel to the fire to support alternative school choices for kids and parents. Microschools – major beneficiaries of ESAs – exploded in popularity. There are now 125,000 microschools with almost 2 million students.
Before Corona (B.C.), most parents thought that public schools were disasters overall, but that their specific public school was the exception. After all, what parent would send their kid to a school they thought was no good?
Being in the same room as their children during COVID and seeing what was actually going on in the classroom, parents were horrified. When the masks came on, the mask came off.
After Disease (A.D.), angry moms who were concerned about their children's education and being told parents shouldn't have input were a driving force behind Glenn Youngkin's election as Governor of Virginia. This uprising of fed-up parents, dubbed the “Virginia Mothers Militia,” carried over into the 2024 election, turning education into a pivotal swing vote issue.
Bitcoin and Ethereum’s 156% and 90% rise in 2023 signaled the Web3 obituaries that were abundant in 2022 were premature. Like many emerging technologies before it, the hype that accompanied Web3 and its cousins the Metaverse and Crypto let it get ahead of itself with the predictable crash back to earth. In 2024, the reasons that initially sparked excitement unfolded vividly in full color.
“Forever Brands” such as Nike, Starbucks, Gucci, Prada, and Adidas all doubled down with their Web3 strategies, and Apple’s critically acclaimed Vision Pro helped accelerate the trend. Physicians practicing surgery, students learning history by being immersed into a monumental moment of the past, artists creating in alternative mediums all became the norm. The Web3 Market was projected to grow from $2.3 billion in 2023 to $33.5 billion by 2030, led by companies such as Vatom, Coinbase, and Akamai (see the other 25 Biggest Web3 Companies In The World here).
The Metaverse is all about engagement and community which games are Exhibit A. Roblox and Unity remained the undeniable company leaders. Abu Dhabi established itself as the creative hub for games with talent from around the World flocking to be where it was all happening.
Abu Dhabi, with its little brother Dubai, continued to impress not just being the “Capital of Capital” but being a Window to the Future. “Abu Dubai” is what Singapore was for Asia for the past 25 years and what London has been for World since Big Bang nearly 40 years ago…the Global City of the Future.
Money helps, and with four of the five largest Sovereign Funds in the World, there isn’t much Abu Dhabi can’t do financially. More impressive is the forward vision and coordination that puts it in front of some of the biggest opportunities on Earth, including AI, alternative energy, food tech, fintech, healthcare and, education.
Moreover, from a geographic standpoint, Abu Dhabi’s location being a hop, skip and a jump from major emerging markets such as India, Africa, and MENA makes it the natural connection point. Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) has been a major beneficiary of this and has seen its capital market activity explode over the past several years.
Abu Dhabi isn’t alone in its aspiration to be the center of tomorrow with its next door neighbor to the West, Saudi Arabia aggressively making its case for relevance.
Saudi leadership has made abundantly clear its plans to transition the country from an Industrial Economy based on oil to a Knowledge Economy based on education and technology.
Perhaps nothing exemplifies the aspiration of Saudi Arabia better than their vision for the innovation city of the future, NEOM. It’s a $500 billion project, and the site covers an area of more than 10,000 square miles, about the same size as Massachusetts. NEOM is also a hop, skip, and a jump from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, with 40% of the World’s population within a 6 hour flight.
Given the enormous progress the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made to advance its society and its opportunity to be the center of the World in the 21st century, we see the combination of the Invisible Hand and the Iron Fist coming together to bring peace and prosperity to the Middle East.
The rise of India continued to be a story with legs in 2024. Its charismatic populist leader Narenda Modi won in a landslide in the Summer with his BJP party dominating the election.
With its 1.4 billion people, prioritization of education and growing Middle Class, it is projected that India will be the the 2nd largest economy in the World by 2075 and 30% larger in terms of purchasing power than the United States by 2050.
At the end of 2023, it surpassed the Hong Kong Exchange with $4 trillion in Market Value. The encouragement to keep Indian currency within India and robust market led to a wave of IPOs for Indian companies.
The Texodus migration continued in 2024 with Dallas overtaking Los Angeles and Chicago as financial centers. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Wells Fargo all initiated major expansion plans in Dallas, following Charles Schwab moving its headquarters to the “Big D” in 2022.
Illegal immigration remained out of control, with approximately 250,000 people crossing the border per month. For perspective, there are now more illegal immigrants coming into the United States per month than babies born to U.S. Parents.
NYC and Chicago went from officially being “Sanctuary Cities” to “Save our Cities. Meanwhile, California, despite being the state experiencing the highest population loss, made the decision to impose a 100% tax on the highest earners as it made the calculation that anybody still living there, didn’t care. These tax dollars helped to provide all illegal immigrants full health care coverage starting on January 1, 2024.
The Market takes pride in defying conventional wisdom. Ergo, most economists and strategists forecasted a rocky road ahead for 2023, with 85% predicting a recession.
In fact, the economy remained robust and NASDAQ had its best performance since 2003 up 45%. Accordingly, pundits going into 2024 didn’t want to look silly two years in a row, so most used the “two handed” approach to what the year was going to look like (On one hand this, on the other hand that).
As 2024 evolved, the rotation from the “Magnificent 7” which drove the Markets in 2023, broadened to smaller, fast-growing companies. Of the Mag 7, Alphabet stole the headlines from Microsoft as it got its AI mojo back with the launch of Gemini.
Investor confidence, previously bludgeoned by two years of aggressive Fed rate hikes reaching 5.25%, was bolstered by inflation data meeting the Fed’s 2% target by the Fourth Quarter.
The Market went through its natural cycle. It was in a “Bubble” in 2021, intoxicated by free money, followed by a correction/risk off environment in 2022, followed by a sober, “Climb wall of worry” phase in 2023, followed by a stable, risk-on 2024.
The combination of a pent-up supply of 1,300+ Unicorns and public investors’ new appetite for growth resulted in a booming IPO Market by late Spring. The IPO of Chinese-raised, Singapore-based fast fashion company Shein was the signal for other private companies to jump into the new issue Market as the water was fine.
Top 10 2024 IPOs
The dual trends of the AI Era and a hot IPO market embraced a publicly traded fund that invested in a portfolio of AI-enhanced enterprises.
As we go to print as the Sun sets on 2024, the Presidential Election has still not been called. While this would have historically been a cause for Market panic, unfortunately, it has become the norm.
Cheers to 2025 and a great road ahead!
Maggie Moe’s Yearly Rap 2023
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GSV Growth Portfolio Performance…Up 63% in 2023
Chuckle of the Year
How We Did Last Year: 5 Predictions We Got Right in 2023
✅ 85% of Economists Will Be Wrong…No Recession In 2023
✅ FAANG Stocks Lead A Market Rebound
✅ Bitcoin and Ethereum Come Back From The Dead
✅ Microsoft Pulls Off The $69 Billion Activision Deal
✅ Middle East IPO Market Stays Red Hot
Appendix…10 Charts That Offer 2024 Perspective
#1 Top 50 Fastest-Growing Companies In The World
#2 Top 10 Largest Companies In The World
#3 7 of the 10 Fastest Growing Economies In the World Are In Africa
#4 Top 10 Global Indices In 2023
#5 Forward P/E vs. Total Index Value For Top 10 Global Indices
#6 Guide To The Generations
#7 Global Decline of Fertility Rates
#8 Global Population: Under 15 vs. Over 65 Years
#9 US Population By Race and Age
#10 Sunbelt Shining…Top 10 States By Population Growth
Connecting the Dots & EIEIO…
Old MacDonald had a farm, EIEIO. New MacDonald has a Startup…. EIEIO: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Education, Impact and Opportunity. Accordingly, we focus on these key areas of the future.
One of the core goals of GSV is to connect the dots around EIEIO and provide perspective on where things are going and why. If you like this, please forward to your friends. Onward!
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