this week I'm thinking about – #1 – fertility rates
I’m trying something new this week. I’m writing a blurb about 1) one thing I learned this week, and 2) one question I’m thinking about that's broadly tech-related.
If you have thoughts on the topic or question, or any feedback for the newsletter, please do reply! I’ll paraphrase the best responses in the next email. My goal is to conduct a search effort for dialogues with people thinking about similar things with different lenses. I'm trying this out with a small group of friends (congrats, you're a VIP), but if you know anyone who would be interested in the discussion, please do forward this along.
I’m wondering about...
How much value is left to be captured in the consumer internet era, and does it make sense anymore for a smart generalist founder to build a consumer internet business? It seems uncontroversial that we’re approaching the tail end of the consumer internet era – there is a plateau of internet connectivity in the US, smartphones are ubiquitous, and the internet as a distribution platform has been around long enough that most of the obvious ideas have been pursued. Are capex-lowering tools (Squarespace, Stripe, Flexport, Lumi, e.g.) developing quickly enough to offset the higher opex and smaller opportunities (tougher distribution, smaller TAMs, higher regulatory burdens) in consumer internet, such that starting a consumer internet business still makes sense?
The fertility rate in the US has dropped by 48% in the past 60 years from 3.58 to 1.87 (sub-replacement rate is 2.1 for context), while declining only about 26% from 6.53 to 4.81 for low-income countries; this has been strongly correlated with education rates (data here and here). The power of compounding means that minor changes to fertility rate has major ramifications in terms of the balance of power between nations. If you believe the fertility rate curves by country will converge over time, there are two angles for startups: 1) develop hyper low-cost contraception methods for distribution in underdeveloped countries, or 2) develop services for fertility management / conception (IVF, surrogacy matching, sperm / egg health monitoring, egg donation matching, etc.) for distribution in developed countries.