Tuesday 4 February 2020

Interviewing Benedict Evans at Appear Here's Global Gathering

The Venue and Agenda

On January 24th, 2020 Appear Here held its Annual Global Gathering where we brought together world class investors, retailers, landlords and technologists for a day of insights, lessons and knowledge sharing:

My chat with Benedict Evans

I had the pleasure of hosting a fireside chat with the infamous Benedict Evans (formerly a Partner at a16z and now based in London). Benedict is widely considered to be a thought leader for the tech industry and his weekly newsletter frequently shapes the conversation around new tech developments, artificial intelligence, regulation, big tech companies, mobile and venture capital for a global audience. He has an avid following which includes 130k newsletter subscribers and 280k Twitter followers.

We covered a range of topics including high street retail, machine learning/data science and acquisition channels for brands. Below I've included the list of questions we worked our way through during the 30min conversation:

1. You've said. "Everything the Internet has done to media, it's now doing to retail", tell us more.

2. Do you think the high street is dying? Why or why not?

3. What does the future for the high street look like?

4. If it was up to you, in what ways would you like to see retail change or be disrupted by tech?

5. What role do you think machine learning/data science could play in retail?

6. We hear a lot about machine learning and data science, what are some useful ways to think about machine learning? (You've said, "Machine learning is the new database" tell us more)

7. As the cost of online advertising increases, how do marketers continue to grow their businesses?

8. Why do you think Amazon hasn't been as successful with offline retail as they are with online?

9. What do you make of the rise and fall of WeWork; what can we learn from it?

10. After working in SF and London, what differences do you see and what can we learn from them?

Benedict's "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants" Presentation from Davos

Just earlier that week, Benedict had been in Davos to present an annual presentation on tech trends. In a recent blog post he said "Every year, I produce a big presentation digging into macro and strategic trends in the tech industry. This year, ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’ looks at what it means that 4bn people have a smartphone; we connected everyone, and now we wonder what the Next Big Thing is, but meanwhile, connecting everyone means we connected all the problems. Tech is becoming a regulated industry, but we don’t really know what that will mean." I've pulled out some notable slides from that presentation below that relate to the discussion we had at Appear Here's Global Gathering:

Benedict has clearly thought carefully about how technology is evolving and it was a pleasure to speak with him about those trends as they apply to retail, data science and startups.