“We live in the age of Performative Reading. Consuming as many books as possible has become a competitive sport for knowledge workers who want to show off their intellectual curiosity. To do so, they race through books like they’re collecting mushrooms in Super Mario Kart.”
• David Perrell


Kaizo raises $3M for its AI-based tools to improve customer service support teams (techcrunch.com)
  • Dutch company which uses AI and gamification to help agents track how they work and to work better towards goals. Kaizo understands which behaviors in customer service tickets lead to better outcomes for customers and then guides agents to replicate that using ongoing game mechanics. 
  • Seed round co-led by Gradient (Google’s AI venture fund) and French VC Partech. Christoph Auer-Welsbach, a former partner at IBM Ventures, is joining the company as a co-founder.
  • Presto: We are currently looking at this sector as we believe it will achieve boom with increasing digitalization of services. Current situation is definitely a good preparation for such future as customer support centers are overwhelmed.

Dining and takeout startup Allset raises $8.25M as it adapts to life under lockdown (techcrunch.com)
  • The company started out with allowing diners to make a reservation, order ahead and then pay directly through the Allset app, then added personalized healthy recommendation for each restaurant and takeout option (now switched into contactless takeout).
  • The goal was actually $12 million but “A few investors just disappeared.”
  • Opinion: Very interesting timing for this investment round as most of the restaurants over the world are closed for dine-in and for takeout there is a lot of competition. We have seen similar failed startups, but we wish them the best as this a feature I am missing in everyday non-corona life.


Gaming and Livestreaming, Connecting While Distancing (a16z.com)
  • Video game usage in the U.S. has risen 75 percent during peak hours. Traditional sports are turning to e-sports where the players race or compete together in a game on computer.
  • E-sports streaming provides social interaction and a feeling of community that people in quarantine are missing.
  • Discussion about adoption of VR and other platforms like Discord instead of Zoom even for education and other use cases.


The Impact of COVID-19 on Video Gaming and Our Digital Lives (matthewball.vc)
  • For decades, “gamers” have been making “fake” avatars and carrying out miscellaneous and decidedly un-game-like goals (e.g. designing a room in Second Life versus killing a terrorist in Call of Duty). Most people considered such efforts to be weird or wasteful. 
  • Millions of these same skeptics are now participating in (and enjoying) these activities via Animal Crossing, Fortnite or Roblox as they seek out things to do or attend events once planned for the real world. Not only will this help de-stigmatize virtual life, it might even mean an extra generation will participate in it.

The traits that turned Estonia into a startup nation leave the country positioned to navigate our current crisis (newyorker.com)
  • Estonia had the same response to current crisis as most of the European countries but the people did not panic.
  • Its economy is bound to tech, its government is digital, and most services in the country either are or can be provided electronically. In other words, the prospect of having to work, study, and shop online may not require the sort of readjustment in Estonia as many people face elsewhere.

Preserving Optionality: Preparing for the Unknown (fs.blog)
  • We’re often advised to excel at one thing. But as the future gets harder to predict, preserving optionality allows us to pivot when the road ahead crumbles.
  • We live in a world that’s constantly changing, and if we can’t respond effectively to those changes, we become redundant, frustrated, and useless.
  • We must seek to expand our comfort zone and circle of competence, and we should take minor risks that have potentially large upsides and limited downsides.

Best Practices for Founders in the wake of COVID-19 (notion.so)
  • Collection of resources from top-tier VCs in the US including planning, fundraising, restructuring, communication, business relationships, links and other stuff.
  • It’s more important to optimize for company runway than valuation at this point. Valuation multiples will be reset. This is because many investors perceive there is much more macro risk today and public markets are now valuing companies differently than a few weeks ago.
  • Do not perceive a slow response time from investors as lack of interest - many are working through situations with their portfolio companies or in their personal lives. Be responsive and persistent.

Year-to-date performance of major stock markets (koyfin.com)

In case you are interested in helping us with evaluating some companies and industries or you just want to discus any of these articles, feel free to reach out to Roman from Presto Ventures at roman@prestoventures.com or Linkedin.


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