Growth, Innovation + Investing
from A Round to Apple Inc.

We’ve been delivering authoritative market analysis and perspectives, week-in and week-out for more than a decade. Sign up so we can update you with new releases of A2Apple and our other daily and weekly publications — sent straight to your email.

And make sure to keep a close eye on our research and commentary arm, GSV Tomorrow, where you’ll find original GSV insights, plus curated content revolving around our key Growth Themes. Just complete this form and they’re yours to use and share.

GSV's weekly perspective on Growth, Innovation + Investing...
from A Round to Apple Inc.
Education Technology
April 23, 2017

Weapons of Mass Instruction

Save to PDF

Market Snapshot

Indices Week YTD

On May 8th, leaders from across the global innovation economy will gather in Salt Lake City for the eighth annual ASU GSV SUMMIT, with the mission of accelerating exponential ideas in education and talent. We will welcome over 3,500 entrepreneurs, educators, business leaders, policymakers, and investors, as well as 350 game-changing presenting companies.

What makes the Summit so impactful is the unusual “cocktail” of participants we convene, with the common ingredient being a commitment to giving everybody an equal opportunity to participate in the future. Increasingly, as exponential ideas that are transforming other industries are applied to education — think Tesla’s impact on the automobile industry or Airbnb upending travel and hospitality — this goal is more reachable than ever.

We all go to conferences where there are some good speakers and intellectually stimulating conversation. But when you leave, it’s over. This is why the ASU GSV Summit has so much momentum. People come here because things happen here. Connections are made. Capital is raised. Ideas are brought to life. People come here to make things happen.

Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders, Educators, Investors, Policymakers, Thought Leaders, and Philanthropists

This year’s cocktail of keynote speakers includes LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, acclaimed author Michael Lewis (Moneyball – 2003, The Blind Side – 2006, The Big Short – 2010, The Undoing Project – 2016), tennis great and education philanthropist Andre Agassi, transformational advocate Marian Wright Edelman, machine learning expert Andrew Ng (former Chief Scientist, Baidu + Chairman, Coursera), leading venture capitalists Joe Lonsdale (Founding Partner, 8VC + co-founder, Palantir), Tim Draper (Founder, Draper Associates + Draper University), Mike Maples (Founding Partner, Floodgate), and many others. (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Coursera and Palantir).


Throughout history, whether in pre-industrial or industrial times, great nations developed based on their access to physical resources or their ability to surmount physical barriers. England and Spain crossed oceans, Germany turned coal and iron into steel, and the United States exploited a wealth of agricultural and industrial resources to become the World’s breadbasket and industrial superpower.

But the advent of the personal computer, the Internet, and the digital delivery of information shifted the World’s focus from physical capital to human capital. The most valuable resources in a physical economy are commodities like coal, iron, and oil. Their value is judged by metrics like purity and volume. In a knowledge economy, the most valuable resource is talent. Talent is valued based on brainpower, and the ability to acquire, deliver, and process information effectively.

The Service Economy that developed after World War II started to shift education requirements. If you wanted to participate in the service industry — in jobs ranging from accounting to retail sales to entertainment — some formal education was required. Brains started to win out over brawn.

Gaining knowledge was worthwhile; these jobs were safer, less strenuous, and often better paid. Nevertheless, the education demands were still fairly low: in 1950, roughly 20% of the rising U.S. workforce had some college education by age 30, and only 20% of jobs required a postsecondary credential.

The Personal Computer revolution that began in the mid-1970s displaced a wide range of manual labor, administrative, and clerical jobs — many that were lucrative and desirable. The World changed again when Netscape debuted on Wall Street in 1995. Broadband Internet connectivity transformed communication, making an individual’s actual workplace less relevant.

Now, U.S. workers faced competition not only from computers, but also from low-cost talent pools thousands of miles away. One click and you were connected to your service representative in Mumbai. In developed countries, knowledge work became the new area of opportunity.

Today there is a prevailing sense that rapidly accelerating digitization and automation is triggering an economic shift unlike any we have seen before. As MIT scholars Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee observe in The Second Machine Age, an unsettling future is taking shape characterized by massive unemployment and economic disruption stemming from the fact that as computers get more powerful, companies will have less need for workers of any kind.

Oxford researchers have projected that 47% of American jobs are at “high risk” of being automated in the next 20 years. McKinsey estimates that 12 million U.S. “middle skill” jobs will be eliminated by 2025. Globally, there are over 350 million manufacturing and warehouse workers — roles that are rapidly being replaced as companies like Amazon, which already “employs” 30,000 warehouse robots, seek low-cost, high-efficiency alternatives to human labor. A White House economic report predicted that 83% of jobs that pay less than $20 an hour will be eliminated by automation.


Source: Ray Kurzweil, GSV Asset Management

Through the automation eliminating traditional jobs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicts that there will be a $9 trillion reduction in employment costs. Additionally, AI technologies could reduce $8 trillion of costs in the manufacturing and healthcare industry and creating $2 trillion of efficiency gains through autonomous vehicles and drones. All in all, the annual disruptive impact of AI technologies could amount to up to $33 trillion.

What does that all amount to? According to the McKinsey Global Institute, The AI revolution is transforming society 10x faster, at 300x the scale, and approximately 3000x the impact of the Industrial Revolution.

White collar jobs of all types are are up against major challenges. By 2025 it’s estimated that $7 trillion will be managed by robo-financial advisors. The Associated Press is already using Artificial Intelligence to produce over 3,000 financial reports per quarter. Effectively, robots are managing money and reporting financial results.

For many, it feels like technology jobs are an Alamo.

It’s why Mark Zuckerberg said. “Our policy is to hire as many talented computer engineers as we can find. There aren’t enough people who have these skills today.” It’s why the U.S. Department of Labor projects there will be 1.2 Million computer science related job openings by 2020. No less an authority than the Harvard Business Review recently called Data Science, “The sexiest job of the 21st century.”

The problem is that we are living in exponential times. The computer capability curve is getting steeper. Technology replaces the technologist. Automation is going from Blue Collar, to White Collar, to “No Collar”.


Source: HBO

It’s why you’re hearing a chorus of people claim the end of times is here. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has speculated that, “We could be looking at a society in which all the gains in wealth accrue to whoever owns the robots.” Y-Combinator’s Sam Altman has suggested that, “The obvious conclusion is that the government will just have to give [unemployed] people money.”

Aside from the minor issue that the government doesn’t make money — it takes money — one thing we know as sure as the Sun coming up in the East is that automation eats jobs. But it doesn’t eat work. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson observed that, “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” We know how that played out.


Source: GSV Asset Management

We don’t think that we’ve reached the end of history. We just need to think differently.

Imagine how farmers would have responded if you told them in 1790 that essentially all of the agricultural jobs were going to vanish in less than two hundred years — or, in other words, that the entire agrarian economic ecosystem was going up in smoke. Many would have lobbied the government to protect their livelihood. Others might have shrugged off the news, betting that it wouldn’t happen on their watch. But indignant, indifferent, or ignorant, change happens.

ATMs were introduced to banks in the 1970s and their numbers in the U.S. quadrupled from roughly 100,000 to 400,000 between 1995 and 2010. You might assume that these machines spelled the end of bank work.

But U.S. bank teller work actually rose modestly in this period from 500,000 to approximately 550,000 over the 30-year period from 1980 to 2010. As David Author notes in his piece “Why Are There Still So Many Jobs?” (Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2015) ATMs reduced the cost of operating a bank branch. Tellers per bank fell, but the number of branches surged by 30%. At the same time, branch bankers shifted their focus from routine cash handling to human interactions, forging lifelong, multi-product relationships with customers.


Kaizen is a Japanese business term meaning “continuous improvement.” An education corollary is GSV’s concept of “KaizenEDU,” which means “continuous learning.” In a world with smart machines, you can no longer fill up your “knowledge tank” until age 25 and cruise through life. Effective workers must refill their knowledge tanks continuously.

At this year’s ASU GSV Summit, we’re going to hear from innovators of all stripes — from entrepreneurs, to policymakers, business leaders, educators and investors — who are “thinking differently” to make KaizenEDU a reality.

That means applying transformational technologies to learning, including Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. It’s scaled platforms that are reaching millions of people with engaging and effective education opportunities — what we call “Weapons of Mass Instruction.” It’s new models that help people get the skills they need without dropping out of life and taking on massive debt.

Below is a full agenda for the Summit, which you can also access HERE. We hope to see you there!

Additional Programming on Monday, May 8th

  • The Future of Work is Now! (view HERE)
  • Leading Educator Program (view HERE)
  • Pre-K to 12 Program (view HERE)
  • Post-Secondary Program (view HERE)
  • Global Program (view HERE)
  • Venture + Growth Company Presentations (view HERE)

Additional Programming on Tuesday, May 9th

  • The Future of Work is Now! (view HERE)
  • Leading Educator Program (view HERE)
  • PreK to 12 Educator Program (view HERE)
  • Post-Secondary Program (view HERE)
  • Global Program (view HERE)
  • Venture + Growth Company Presentations (view HERE)

Additional Programming on Wednesday, May 10th

  • The Future of Work is Now! (view HERE)
  • Leading Educator Program (view HERE)
  • PreK to 12 Program (view HERE)
  • Post-Secondary Program (view HERE)
  • Venture + Growth Company Presentations (view HERE)

(Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Chegg, Knewton, General Assembly, Clever)


by Luben Pampoulov

AR-VR Combat

In what seemed to be a punch-by-punch knockout, Snapchat and Facebook both made big moves into augmented reality last week. Just hours ahead of the F8 conference, Snapchat released a new set of augmented reality lenses, called World Lenses, that allow users to add virtual objects to their snaps. The first set of such lenses were immediately a hit and felt very cool — almost like a new version of Pokemon Go imbedded in Snapchat. (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Snap).

Augmented Snaps

A few hours later, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would soon release the same type of AR lenses for its user, and also announced that Facebook will open up the creation of AR lenses to developers. Once again, Snap was one step ahead of its big rival, but it surely won’t be long until Zuck copy-pastes that new function across Instagram, Messenger and Facebook.

What was much more impressive was Facebook’s announcement of Spaces — a VR hangout app for Oculus Rift users. Remember SecondLife? Facebook Spaces will be that, except way more advanced, way better, and also at the right time. With the proliferation of affordable VR devices, Spaces can soon become the place where friends hang out, regardless of their actual geography. And inside Spaces, the virtual locations will be limitless; whether on a virtual island, or in space, or in a classroom — users chose where they want to be.

I believe the impact of Spaces will be significant — not only will it enable friends to hang out in an avatar-type of environment, but it will enable people to have “face-to-face” meetings regardless of their location, it will facilitate the creation of classrooms for platforms like Coursera, it will let users play games as if they are next to each other, etc. In essence, Spaces will “eliminate” the physical distance. (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Coursera).

In addition, Facebook also unveiled two new VR cameras with “six degrees of freedom”. The immersive 360-degree video cameras will allow producers to fine tune the tape and to adjust the viewing angle by 6 degrees even after a scene is shot! This is the newest VR technology, currently only used by Lytro. (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Lytro).

Source: Facebook

Clearly, Facebook is heading towards Augmented and Virtual Reality, as it aims to stay ahead of the competition. It is also clear that Snap will be its biggest competitor for the foreseeable future. Evan Spiegel continues to impress and to out-innovate in terms of personal content sharing and engagement. Snap is expected to report first quarter results in two weeks, and many indicators point to a strong quarter:

  • For most of Q1, Snapchat remained the #1 most downloaded app in the social video category in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, according to App Annie. Instagram has mostly remained second.
  • 4C Insights, the ad platform that analyzes trends on social media, released “The State of Social Advertising” and reported that Snapchat had a 593% increase in Snap Ads on a quarter-over-quarter basis. The total sample included more than 900 brands spending more than $130 million. (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in 4C Insights).
  • A new Jefferies survey of 1,000 people showed that both engagement and usage on Snapchat increased the most over the last 6 months, beating Instagram and others.

The Facebook versus Snap battle is heating up, and is rising to new levels. While not as crazy and hostile as that of Uber against Lyft (and clearly, Facebook has a high-quality culture and management in contrast to Uber), it is one that will continue to intensify as both continue to relentlessly innovate and execute! (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Lyft).

Pioneer Notes

by Li Jiang

The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers

CliffsNotes + commentary on Adam Grant’s TED Talk

Li: throw out your preconceived assumptions of what makes people creative thinkers and doers.

I encourage you to watch the full talk (15 mins, link at end of this post), but if you want a 3 minute preview, here we go:


I became interested in studying originals after missing out on investing in Warby Parker. Originals not only have ideas but they champion them.

It turns out, they looked nothing like I expected.

Originals are late to the party

I’m not a procrastinator. I’m a pre-crastinator, meaning I stress about finishing projects as fast and as early as possible. I finished my senior thesis 4 months before the deadline.

As a kid, I played Nintendo starting at 5am because I was so eager to win and get better. The local newspaper even wrote a story called “The Dark Side of Nintendo”, starring me.

The Dark Side of Nintendo, starring Adam Grant.

One of my students (at Wharton) said to me:

“I have my most creative ideas when I’m procrastinating”

So I challenged her to do a study on this. She surveyed people and ran some experiments and what she found was that the pre-crastinators were so eager to the point of panic that they had no original thought, but the procrastinators waited so late that they also couldn’t come up with anything creative either.

Originals are the middle people.

Those are the people who wait just long enough before working on and completing the task. This works because the task is active in the back of their minds. The brains are working on it while they waited to complete the project.

You call it procrastinating, I call it thinking.

Leonard Da Vinci toiled for 16 years on the Mona Lisa. Martin Luther King was rewriting his speech 3am the night before he gave it. And half way through his speech, he looked up and spoke four words that were not in his script:

I have a dream.

By waiting, he left himself open to the wildest range of idea. Procrastinating is a vice for productivity, but a boon for creativity.

The first mover advantage concept in business is mostly a myth. It is the improvers who take the time to come up with something unique and better who do well in the end.

Originals feel doubts and fears

Original people feel the same fear and doubt, but they manage it differently. There are 2 types of doubts: idea doubt and self doubt.

Idea doubt is energizing because it motivates you to refine and test your ideas. Instead of saying “I’m crap” (self-doubt), you say “the first few drafts are going to be crap anyway” (idea-doubt).

When you feel doubt, don’t let it go.

Just keep working at it and you’ll experience vuja de (not deja vu) —you see something you’ve seen a million time, but with fresh eyes.

Originals fear failure, but they fear not trying even more. They may fear action, but they fear the regret of inaction way more.

Originals have tons of bad ideas. The greatest originals are the ones who failed the most, because they tried the most. One of the best predictors of creativity is sheer output.

The Warby Parker founders tested 2,000 names before picking Warby Parker.

Being original is not easy, but it’s the best way to improve the world around us.

Watch the full video

Market Update

Week ending April 23, 2017

World Indices

U.S. Indices Snapshot

Valuation P/E Est. P/E/G Price/Sales