Turns out my last month’s newsletter was a good prelude to Swvl’s news of their $3.1m net profit in 2023 from few days ago.


Today I want to talk about the future, why the future is a verb and why Japanese have a word for companies older than 100 years. I’ll also throw in some thoughts on the investment trends in the region.



Building our immortal algorithms


If you’re 30 or younger, you are already living into the future that we all are making right now, whether it’s the tech changes or the climate changes. The world is building “immortal algorithms” that are already defining the future of humanity. (And I don’t mean building AI that will produce the best trip itinerary for Bali.)


Few days ago I listened to a podcast episode with a futurist Ari Wallach. He got me with:


“The future is not a noun.
It’s not this thing out there that we’re heading towards that’s going to kind of wash over us.
The future is very much a verb.
It’s something that we do consistently and constantly as humans, as parents, as partners, as professionals.”


You and I are biologically wired to focus on now and our current selves. The key to overriding that is to be able to envision what success looks like. It’s not as easy as it sounds and there’s training that can help us envision our futures – like writing letters to our future selves. The research shows that writing that letter would change how you think about yourself and your role in future shaping.



Wallach also reminds that every one of us is a futurist thanks to the actions we take at a micro level. But can we see beyond the short-term incentives of our today’s actions? Japanese for sure can. Fun fact – did you know that Nintendo is 135 years old?


The longest-running businesses on planet Earth are:


1/ majority Japanese (they even have a word shinise for companies older than 100 years, literal meaning is “old shop”),
2/ over 1,000 years old (in fact there are 21 such companies in Japan) and
3/ run like family businesses. That means that whoever is in the CEO seat is there to represent them and the future people in his seat. Those individuals never lose sight of their relationship with stakeholders or their role in the community at large.


It’s true that Japan’s startup ecosystem has often been labeled as sluggish. Thinking long-term may trigger a fear of failure. Well, even Japanese entrepreneurial culture is reforming itself nowadays to ensure it can create new, future shinise.


Last weekend I discussed the past, the present and the future on a panel at RiseUp Saudi Summit together with Sharif El-Badawi (DFDF), William Bao Bean (Orbit Startups), Waleed A. Alballaa (Sukna Ventures) and Mohammed Alzubi (Nama Ventures), moderated by Omar Al-Shabaan (The Space).


My thoughts on the future investment trends in the region? We cannot exactly say when the investment activity will increase but at least we know there are things that need to be fixed first before we see any improvement. Which is: We need to see more exits and LPs need to see a proof that their money will come back to them as promised by VCs.


There are companies that have survived the downturn and they continue to grow – those are potential acquisition targets or IPO candidates. Once this cycle comes to an end and money goes back in investors’ hands, we will witness a new cycle where investors will be willing to invest more in VCs and in blind pools in general.


And the distant future? We certainly have our own, regional shinise in the making… A team building another immortal algorithm. A founder imagining his or her legacy. A founder writing letters to his or her future self.


Now go get that paper and pen and start writing.


And don’t forget – we can be immortal through our actions. Stay conscious and careful.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)  
Folks 30 or younger are already living into the future that we all are making right now. I discuss how we as humans can get better at imagining (and creating) our future and the future after us. I also share my opinion on the future investment activity trends in the region and I conclude that before we see an improvement in investment levels, we need to first see more exits and LPs need to see their money coming back to them.


Family Postcard


Gameball joined Hub71

Women Leaders Summit in Riyadh

CarSeer partnering with China

NearPay in Las Vegas!

Ahmed Wadi interviewed by Forbes Middle East

One day in the life of a founder

Recover your flood-damaged devices


Latest Jobs @ ArzanVC Family


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How’s your water sports training going this year?
Depending on your location, you could consider getting stands for kayaks by the main office entrance… skip the umbrella stands and go for the kayaks instead.



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