Reopening and the Reinvention Story of Tock

Posted in , By David Robinson

The US economy has begun to reopen. The early stage efforts appear not to have generated a significant increase in new diagnosed Covid-19 cases yet in most states. Axios But the various models continue to predict ominous Covid-19 death levels. NPR As reopening expands, there will be many forms of “voting” or “betting” occurring. Some public health officials (e.g., Dr. Fauci), concerned that the health risks of congregations remain high, are voting for caution. CBS News Federal, state and local leaders are tilting toward more aggressive reopening or more conservative, depending on their perspective, knowing that they face election accountability.

Many US stock investors have bet that the reopening is likely to be relatively successful, given that the S&P 500 Index has quickly recovered almost 60% of its 34% flash bear market loss in the face of plunging economic metrics. Of course, stock investors get to vote every day, so may change their votes rapidly if the reopening starts to falter. Lastly, you and I will vote on when we feel safe re-engaging in certain economic activities. You can reopen a restaurant but when will the customers return in critical numbers? You can restart sports events but when will fans return in masse to the arenas? Washington Post

  • The Story of Tock: For sure this sounds like a Disney movie, but I share it as an example of how many businesses and non-profits will need to reinvent themselves as a result of the pandemic. Tock, a startup, featured a prepaid reservation system for high-end restaurants. In 2019 it processed $350 million in transactions for restaurants while employing around 100 employees. When the pandemic hit, it faced an existential crisis where its revenues could go rapidly to zero overnight. Within months, Nick Kokonas, the legendary restaurant entrepreneur, reinvented and retooled Tock as a system that processed takeout orders for restaurants. Tock is on track today to process $1 billion in takeout orders annually for restaurants. Meanwhile Open Table is laying off employees. And this is only half the story, as Kokonas and his restaurant partners have successfully reinvented their own acclaimed restaurants to deliver takeout while maintaining a strong commitment to employees. CNBC Tim Ferriss Show
  • Remdesivir and Covid-19 Treatment: Remdesivir, much in the news, is a Gilead Science drug that has shown promise in reducing the average Covid-19 recovery time by several days and possibly reducing the death rate. The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization for Remdesivir use to treat Covid-19. What is encouraging is that we know that there is a drug that can have a possible impact on Covid-19 treatment, but it is not the “silver bullet” for various reasons. Axios Politico
  • Herd Immunity to Covid-19: We focus on vaccines and treatment drugs but another way to defeat Covid-19 is to build a “herd immunity”. Herd immunity occurs when most of a population have developed neutralizing antibodies. How quickly this can happen without an effective vaccine is unknown, but it does build naturally. This is an intriguing story line and ties to the importance of testing. CNBC New York Times
  • Working from Home Here to Stay for Some? Consistent with the idea of reinvention, will we see a major trend in some industries toward remote working? It has its advantages and disadvantages but will have great appeal to firms who can leverage technology to deliver high quality services and products, while reducing their overhead and possibly increasing employee satisfaction. CNBC Axios
  • Lifestyle Changes to Become Permanent? As much as we miss our old behaviors, a significant number of us may make some lifestyle changes. For example, surveys are showing that a significant number of people will be less likely to eat out, fly or attend events with crowds. Will these trends persist or prove temporary? Axios
  • How We Talk About Retirement: The MIT Age Lab has done some interesting work in learning what words, a relative few which is interesting itself, people use to describe future retirement. It differs greatly by age and gender. Older men talk about travel, hobbies, and relaxing for example. Older women are more likely to mention peace, calm and time. Wall Street Journal
  • Victory Gardens Making a Comeback: Gardening is making a big comeback during the pandemic to no surprise. I am not a gardener but give me time. The idea appeals to me.
  • Serialized Novella in the Boston Globe: Shades of Charles Dickens! The Boston Globe has been publishing a serialized novella mystery by Ben Mezrich called “The Mechanic”. I have enjoyed it. I would give the idea an A+ and the actual story an A- (so far). But kudos for the Globe reviving a cool art form that used to be tremendously popular. Boston Globe
  • A Quote to Consider: “Do less. Do better. Know why.” Cal Newport

Stay safe out there, my friends.

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About the Author David Robinson

A wealth advisor with more than 25 years of experience in the financial field, Dave serves as Robinson Smith Wealth Advisors’ Co-Chief Investment Officer and is a Co-Managing Member of the firm. As a Certified Financial Planner® and non-practicing attorney, he provides clients with deep expertise in areas including investment management and retirement planning.
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