I made “19 predictions for 2019” in January. It’s Result Time.
In early January, I made a set of predictions for the year ahead. The matters addressed were fairly broad, including sports, technology and business. As we’ve once again reached this b*tch of a year’s end, time has come to check in and see if I am indeed a business prophet or yet another hack with a blog.
The smart money is on the latter.
Remember, though, what may seem fairly obvious now was VERY MUCH less so 12 months ago.
Prediction: Facebook creates Facebook Bank, because the Zuck needs more sweet, sweet data from you. Alternatively, Facebook launches a cryptocurrency.
Results: Surprise, surprise ! Facebook did indeed announce the launch its crypto-currency in 2019. The jury is literally still out on this one, but it’s looking more and more like a flop as time goes. That will not stop our robotic overlord from going forth, as even if the West refuses to give in to Facebook’s authoritarian ways, its payment system will surely be a hit in developing countries, where cheap and easy money transfer is the life-blood of communities.
Prediction: By the end of 2019, Airbnb is worth more than Uber. Why? Uber just isn’t as well protected from competitors as Airbnb is. Moats matter.
Results: AirBnB’s current valuation is at around $42 billion, against Uber’s $48 billion (at time of writing). You could argue I got it wrong, and be right, but when the prediction was written Uber was said to be worth $120B — few would have predicted this 60% drop in valuation. Additionally, AirBnB’s numbers have not been updated since April, and it’s one of the few profitable tech unicorn. That said, after WeWork’s debacle, it’s unlikely AirBnB will IPO at a higher amount than Uber. More on that later.
Score: 3/10 (because I make the rules and got close enough)
3. Elon Musk
Prediction: Elon Musk starts a marijuana company. HighX, Space-D Out… This wouldn’t nearly be as stupid as it sounds given the industry’s growth.
Results: No such company was founded. But hear me out :
In March, Musk released a rap single Titled “RIP Harambe” to SoundCloud under the username “Emo G Records”.
In February, Musk co-hosted YouTuber PewDiePie’s show “Meme Review”.
In October, Musk voiced an alternate reality version of himself with tusks, known as “Elon Tusk”, in a Rick & Morty episode.
And then, there’s that picture from late December :
Weed just HAS to be involved in some of those decisions. Right? Either way, my man out there living his best life.
4. Donald Trump
Prediction: Donald Trump is not removed from office and probably isn’t even be impeached. Firstly, it’s pretty much mathematically impossible (sorry). Secondly, an impeached Trump means a Pence president. And a Pence president gets elected in 2020. That’s in no one’s interest.
Results: The house moved to remove the Cheeto-In-Chief from office on the 18th of December, making him the third U.S president to be impeached. That will however be all, as the Senate will acquit him. Worse, impeachment by the house means that he’s actually going to get re-elected... More on that in my next article.
Score: 8/10 (would have been 10/10, had the democrats waited 2 weeks)
5. Game Of Thrones
Prediction: Game of Thrones returns in 2019 after 2 long years, with all its twists and turns. Here’s what will happen : a) Ned Stark returns b) Tyrion turns out to be a Targaryen, c) Arya becomes Little Finger, d) Bran turns out to be the Night King, e) Jaimie kills Cersei.
Results: None of those. I did however predict on Reddit that Bran would become king. So… there’s that. However, can we all just agree the show would have been a lot better if any of the above had actually been correct ? HBO, I’m waiting for your call.
6. Market crash
Prediction: One of the following finally blows up in our faces: student debt, Chinese debt, corporate debt, or high interest rates. Alternatively, and all-out revolution against the rich.
Results: Any day, now. He said as the market enjoys some of the best returns it’s ever had… However, 2019 was the year we realised financial inequalities were not only unsustainable, but here to last (automation will make sure of that). There were no “all-out revolutions against the rich”, but social confrontations such as the ones that saw the rise of the Yellow Vests in France show that our societies are on thinner ice than we once thought.
7. North Korea
Prediction: Tensions continue to thaw between the Koreas, with talks of reunification emerging and vanishing throughout the year.
Results: There’s been a lot of posturing but little progress in 2019, as the world and North Korea spent much of the year trying to convince the other side to take the first step in nuclear talks. Few talks of reunion, but few weapons’ tests, too. Let’s circle back in 2045.
8. 2020 U.S Elections
Prediction: Kanye West and/or the Rock announce they’ll run for US president. We’ll laugh. We’ll laugh because we’ve learnt NOTHING. The other candidates that emerge are as follows:
Republicans : A bag of cash with a dollar sign on it.
Democrats : The same bag of cash, but with a Coexist sticker instead of a dollar sign.
Results: Kanye West did announce he’d run for president (in 2024), and damn it, I’m tired of satire not being satire enough for reality. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said he “wasn’t ruling out” a possible run, and that, too, is terrifying. As for the dollar bags, please find below the 2020 frontrunners’ net worth :
Sander : $2.5 million
Biden : $9 million
Warren : $12 million
Bloomberg : $52.4 billion
Trump : $3.7 billion
And yet, we continue to lie to our kids that nothing is impossible if they just believe.
Prediction: A no-deal Brexit happens, and while it’s not smooth, it doesn’t turn Britain into the dystopian hellscape currently predicted.
Results: At this time last year, Brexit had already been going on for too long, and had already had it’s fair amount of twists and turns. After yet another exhausting year, it appears we’re getting close to the end. May is out, Boris is in with a brand new majority, and the UK is looking to leave the EU on January 31st 2020. But fear not, as this is not the end for our favourite drama : if the UK does not manage to sign a new trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020, WTO rules come into play, with all the tariffs that entails. Tick, tock.
Prediction: Russia foments armed conflict in Eastern Europe as its economy takes a hit. Social media meddling doesn’t stop.
Results, in one sentence : “Projected growth at 1.2 percent in 2019 and between 1.6 and 1.8 percent in 2020–2021; poverty expected to decline modestly”. Translation : the Russian economy is not great, but it’s not terrible either. This is good, because if Putin has a decent economy, he does not need to start a new war to gather national support. The wars in Ukraine and Syria continue, but without further insurrections, as was feared. As for the Social media meddling… Bullseye!
Prediction: Infinity War 2 claims the #2 all-time box office slot. It also completely reverses what happened in the previous movie.
Results: I got it wrong. I GOT IT WRONG BY 0.3%! Avengers, Endgame, grossed “only” $8M more than Avatar. It also did reverse what had happened in the previous movie. But in a cool, fun way.
Prediction: Pinterest, Lyft and Uber go public as IPOs become sexy again.
Results: Pinterest went public in April (currently trading 13% below IPO price). Lyft in March (currently trading 4% below IPO price). Uber in May. This matters because IPOs were indeed sexy in 2019. They were sexy until the failure of Uber’s IPO. Bringing a company that stated that there was a chance they’d never earn a profit public produced a mass sentiment shift among investors. It was as if they all suddenly thought “never again”. If you had invested $1,000 in Uber at its IPO, you’d now have… $666. Coincidence ? Yes.
Prediction: Walmart or Amazon launch their brand of budget health insurance.
Results: September 19, 2019 : “Walmart is opening its first 10,000 square-foot “Walmart Health” center that features an array of primary medical services, dental care, and behavioral health services as part of a new model expected to eventually be replicated in other markets.” 4 days later : “Amazon has gone live with Amazon Care, a new pilot healthcare service offering that is initially available to its employees (..). The Amazon Care offering includes both virtual and in-person care (…)”. It’s almost too easy.
Prediction: 500 Amazon Go stores open in 2019, and no one is ready for the fallout.
Results: There are currently 18 operating Amazon go stores, or about 3.6% of what I’d predicted. Turns out the model is not as solid as I’d once thought. More on this in my article about the matter, aptly named “The problem(s) with Amazon Go”.
Prediction: Roma wins Best Foreign Language Film. A Star Is Born wins Best Picture. Bohemian Rhapsody gets a nondescript Oscar because the Academy doesn’t want to seem insensitive, even though the movie is pretty terrible.
Roma won Best Foreign Language Film (WIN)
Green Book won Best picture (FAKE NEWS)
Bohemian Rhapsody got 4 Oscars, 3 of them being nondescript (WIN)
16. South America
Prediction: Deepening economic crisis and political instability in Venezuela lead to violent civil unrest and increased refugee outflows. This has a regional spill-over effect, as unrest in Brazil is also to be expected.
Results: This is one of the few cases where a 0/10 would be welcomed. We’re not talking about movies, tech companies, or billionaires and their antics. On 30 April, during the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, a group of several dozen military personnel and civilians tried to seize power. There were few casualties, but the ensuing political instability has meant a rise in violence. The Venezuelan refugee crisis is now one of the worse the world has ever seen, with nearly 6 million people fleeing the country. No major unrest in Brazil, but that’s a story for another day.
Score: 8/10 (but I’m not happy about it)
Prediction: A.I ethics becomes an actual big deal, and a handful of laws regarding facial recognition are written and enacted, following a handful of lawsuits.
Results: In 2019, all major tech companies came out with their own A.I guidelines for ethical behaviour. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook… They’re all full of it. The only thing that will coerce major corporation into behaving ethically is a set of comprehensive laws (not guidelines!), which can be applied throughout entire regions of the world. And those laws are coming, as predicted : on May 14, 2019, San Francisco became the first major US city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by city agencies and law enforcement. Two months later, the neighbouring city of Oakland implemented similar restrictions. I’m happy to see that the EU is thinking of doing the same.
Prediction: South Africa wins the Rugby World Cup 2019.
Results: What a Rugby World Cup that was. South Africa won the cup, but Japan won our hearts.
Prediction: Infant mortality, deaths from infectious disease, and wealth inequality between the poorest and wealthiest nations continue to decline. The number of girls attending school and global income continues to increase. People continue loving each other, and keep making great TV shows. The world keeps turning.
Results : So far so good? The use of renewable energy is up, average carbon footprints are down, literacy rates are up, tiger populations are growing, more trees are being planted than cut, technology is helping us live longer, the ozone hole is smaller than ever… Yes, the news is grim, but we must remember not to let that stop us from helping ourselves and others be better off than they were last year.
Score: 10/10 (despite my better judgement)
FINAL SCORE : 5.9/10
Pretty good, and still above average.
Tune in next week for 2020’s Predictions.