Yesterday, Morgan Stanley released a report by their head of biotech research, Matthew Harrison, which has the following prognosis:

Here's a larger version of that embedded image:

Like any model, it's not a prediction of what will happen, but it's notable in that it's one of the first attempts to articulate what will happen to happen in the coming months and worth considering as we collectively face an uncertain future.

There's no question that the pandemic is creating immense change, and that things won't simply go back to how they were.

I think one of the more interesting considerations will be how this affects people at a personal level, in particular what people choose to work on, and how they choose to work.

Those with steady jobs will continue to maintain those jobs, particularly if they have family, debt, or are dependent upon their employers' healthcare plans.  It's not necessarily a great time to take a risk unless you've got enough in the bank for the long haul, and there's already way too much cognitive load to contemplate a change. Just treading water is a huge win.

Then, there's going to be a successive wave of layoffs, as a secondary effect from the initial wave happening right now, which includes knowledge workers and the service industry.  Despite all of the SBA help, there are a lot of businesses whose markets are either shifting if not going away entirely.

Entrepreneurship is going to go through a reset.  First, the existing tech incumbents will emerge with even more leverage, and second, it's unclear what markets will be actually be not only viable but investable.  Investors will also be more discerning, given that some will be hamstrung by their LPs.  What "qualifies" for venture funding is TBD.  If venture ecosystem investors are bearish on the near term growth opportunities, it'll likely push the startup ideas to be riskier (farther out, higher upside) than what we've seen to date.

Fewer people will start small businesses with IRL components.  But, there's still a need, and much of that will be determined by how willing landlords are to cut a deal because rent is the biggest risk.  Or, it might require that we rethink how these businesses are financed in the first place: imagine private investors banding together to invest in their communities, or cities raising tax dollars to be earmarked towards funding new local businesses.  

In part because of this uncertainty, more people who would've embarked on a small busines will pursue solo, free-agent-style businesses where they're one layer in the stack vs. attempting to be "full-stack".  This might create an opportunity for small-business owners to redesign their businesses in complementary and more interdependent ways, part structural and part conformational change.

Now, all that said, I think what is still underestimated is the social impact of the pandemic.  There will be increased poverty and direct effects and from people being sick and dying.  That this has had a disproportionate impact on certain neighborhoods and communities is going to be devastating, especially if you're not in an upwardly mobile job.

New Orleans’ black teacher workforce dropped by 20 percent 10 years after hurricane Katrina, according to the Education Research Alliance report. They were replaced by a younger, whiter teaching corps. The black-majority district lost assets that could have raised achievement. Research shows that black students who have one black teacher by third grade are 7 percent more likely to graduate high school and 13 percent more likely to enroll in college. After having two black teachers, black students’ likelihood of enrolling in college increases by 32 percent.


There's a sharp focus on the economy as the engine of society and almost a desire to "not be bothered" regarding the real impact on the lived-experience of the working class.  It's not clear whether either administration on the ticket for the 2020 election is willing to correct the policy flaws in both healthcare, immigration, climate change and education for starters, which are all sorely needed.

At which point you have to wonder how much of this is truly about the economy vs. simply having power.

And so, the most important work, once again, might actually be in how we affect  political change, and/or incentivize leaders to shift their views, in spite of all of the structural hurdles in place that are designed to maintain the status quo.