Cash Flows and Future Bets: CEOs of Brex, Reel, Paper +More
Henrique Dubugras of Brex, Steve Case's Rise of the Rest, Daniela Corrente of Reel
Lately I’ve been trying to counterbalance the breathless commentary about the stock market and economy with pragmatic analysis of which innovations will continue to matter.
Yes, the major stock indices — the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq — are revisiting 12-month lows. A lot of normally favored stocks are down near levels where they traded in the summer of 2020, in the throes of pandemic uncertainty.
So it was nice to have long conversations with entrepreneurs who are growing their businesses. Henrique Dubugras, Brex cofounder and co-CEO, is building a digital spend management platform to make businesses smarter about where their money goes. Steve Case, the early web pioneer and author of newly released book Rise of the Rest, talked to me about the potential for technology to fuel economic growth beyond the coasts, and how today’s economic malaise shifts that. Daniela Corrente, cofounder and CEO of Reel, gave me an update on her efforts to help consumers save for what they want rather than spend money they don’t yet have.
There are unifying ideas here: Tighter economic times mean businesses and consumers have to be more careful about what they’re doing with their money, because in financial terms, running out of money is like running out of oxygen. Risky financial assets and risky financial habits that delivered abrasions last year give concussions now. Leaders who can adjust in these times will gain valuable wisdom.
Anyone who’s been following my analysis on CNBC knows I’ve been skeptical of the stock market’s resilience all year, and I’ve questioned how long inflated valuations in so many areas can last. But in recent days I’ve also offered this optimistic note on tech in the medium term:
Look beyond the turbulence, and U.S. tech companies are better positioned than they’ve been in a long time. The most powerful of them, including Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon, have managed to maintain the strength of their platforms despite challenges from challengers like Samsung and Xiaomi in phones, plus Huawei and Alibaba in equipment and commerce. U.S. business software companies have thrived, redefining the cloud era. In semiconductors, U.S. companies Nvidia and AMD have battled from niches to strength, pushing Intel to invest in its manufacturing capability to recapture advantage. Yes, the war in Ukraine has taken an awful human and geopolitical toll. It has also reinforced fraying relationships between the U.S. and its allies, and probably shored up the market for U.S.-based technology for now.
All of that sets a healthy foundation for the next wave of innovation.
Thanks for reading Fortt Knox: Innovation Curated! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Reel CEO Daniela Corrente on Save Now, Buy Later: CNBC Working Lunch
Brex CEO Henrique Dubugras on Fintech for Enterprise, and His Teen Entrepreneur Story
AOL CEO Steve Case on His New Book, Rise of the Rest
Amazon SVP Devices and Services Dave Limp on the Holiday Lineup
Is Amazon's Sleep Tracker Dreamy or Creepy? On the Other Hand
Check out The Black Experience in America: The Course, an online educational resource I researched, designed and built. A free PDF download is available to bring the material to kids, and the online interactive experience is made for young people and adults. You can also take interactive courses at your own pace: