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digital daily: Innovation

Innovation: The internet turned 40 on January 1st. Forty years prior to this, the Internetwork Protocol (IP) standard was introduced to aid computers in communicating with one another. Nobody knew what to do with it, except a few visionaries. Microsoft launched Windows to the public in 1985 with plans of making computers user-friendly. Profits were irrelevant for a long time; today, Windows generates $25 billion in annual revenue with a 76% market share in operating systems. The story isn’t unique to technology. Industrial innovation shares a similar history. Edwin Drake was the first American to drill for oil in 1859. Most people couldn’t see the bigger point as they were fixated on the immediate application - Kerosene, an oil derivative, which was a nice replacement to whale oil. Again, a few visionaries pressed ahead; today, we eat oil. Innovation endures macrocycles. Oil survived the panics of 1873, 1893, 1917, and the Great Depression. Internet companies persevered during the 1987 stock market crash, the 1990s savings and loan crisis, and the bubble. Good ideas prevail. Bad ones are eradicated – the faster, the better. Macro shocks of 2022 are a gentler replay of this history. Yes, the Fed tightening cycle was the fastest since Chair Volcker. Any assets anchored to low-interest rates suffered, digital assets among them. It demands a more disciplined future. Good. And digital assets are much farther along in the cleansing process. More ink was spent on digital challenges in 2022 than UK pension insolvency, liquidity gates on REITs, and the relentless inflows to buy-the-dip in US tech. Our 2023 crystal ball is no clearer than yours. But the one thing that will be resoundingly evident – digital is here to stay. Like oil in 1859. Like the IP in 1983. Like a host of innovations that we take for granted today.