February went by in a flash.
Before we talk to you about what excites us about the future, we must recognise the terrible suffering ongoing in Ukraine and the deep concern that it has provoked for many of our fellow Europeans. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this catastrophe.
This month at Moonfire we welcomed some impressive new people to our team. This newsletter throws the spotlight on a few of them so that you can start to get to know them better. We will also dive deep into our thoughts on the rise of gig working and its future.
The Gig Economy - Our View
The term the “gig economy” was coined in 1915 when freelance jazz musicians began using the word ‘gig’ to refer to their shows. While the phenomenon may not be new, we have all seen how the gig economy has expanded rapidly in recent years, fuelled by technological transformations that have enabled new opportunities for people and businesses, and catalysed by the covid-19 pandemic.
In the EU, over 28 million people work through digital labour platforms (app and web-based platforms that connect individuals with jobs and services they can perform for money). This is predicted to be 43 million by 2025. In the US, the gig sector is expanding 8.25x faster than the US economy as a whole.
At Moonfire, tools for gig and freelance workers are a core part of our future of work thesis and we’re obsessed with companies that possess and improve upon the ‘golden triangle’ of access, efficiency and service quality in their chosen sector. We believe that the growth of the gig and freelance economy presents huge opportunities for technologists, investors and society at large.
One of the key indicators that the gig economy is maturing in Europe is the proliferation of online intermediaries, connecting demand and supply for goods and services. At the same time, we observe massive growth in people working flexibly and independently, often alongside a demand for a greater sense of purpose and ownership in their work.
The boundaries of ‘work’ and ‘career’ are being redrawn as people gain the ability to define how they want to work, until what age and even the different means in which they are being paid, with increasing numbers opting to be paid in crypto rather than fiat currency. Long-gone are the days of a simple answer to the simple question, who do you work for?
We’ve seen vast sums of capital going into the gig economy, across transport (Uber, Bolt, Lyft), fast food (Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Grubhub) and more recently last-mile grocery deliveries (Getir, Gorrillas, Zapp, etc.). In 2021, $4.6 billion dollars was poured into European grocery delivery companies, a truly astonishing figure.
As the gig economy in Europe grows and matures, we strongly believe that it is time to look beyond the marketplaces themselves at the huge opportunities that exist in the range of B2B and B2B2C services that will support the gig economy in the long term.
The growth and maturity curve of this long-term support is vital as, while the pace of this industry is exciting, regulation follows closely behind, reigning in what some would see as its excesses. In the Netherlands, several cities have banned 15-minute delivery services. More widely, some question how the gig economy will fare in Europe, given the labour priorities of the EU commission.
At Moonfire, our vision for the future of the gig economy is as an ecosystem that serves businesses and workers alike. Improving the conditions and lives of gig workers is paramount to ensure the future of the sector. One area that we think is currently underserved is financial wellness for gig workers. This is where companies like Butter and Willa come in. Companies like Butter can play a significant role in supporting gig workers by providing them with transparency on their real wages alongside clear, workable shift schedules to help them achieve their financial goals. We hope to have Butter fully-integrated into our portfolio in the coming weeks. Willa, which provides a payment solution for freelance creators that allows them to get paid faster and on better terms, was one of Moonfire’s first investments.
Could the evolutionary path of the gig economy lie along the web3 revolution currently sweeping the world? Smart contracts allow workers to receive pay immediately, an often-times problematic issue for freelancers, forced to constantly chase companies for invoices. DAOs allow members to join and begin work in a matter of clicks, rising through the ranks in proportion to the amount of useful effort they put in.
We remain dialled in to the future of work and are constantly on the lookout for innovative solutions for the gig and creator economy space. While we’re evaluating numerous companies in the space every day, please do get in touch if you see anything that might pique our interest.
New Stars in the Moonfire Galaxy
We’re very excited to introduce you to some formidable new team members. We’re honoured that they joined us on our journey to change how venture is done. Check out the whole team here.
Akshat is a former YCombinator founder with a background in banking and experience at the front line of entrepreneurship. Prior to joining Moonfire, he held investor roles at Progression Fund and Accel. Akshat was Co-Founder and CEO at DocTalk, which was incubated at YCombinator and where he led workflows across product, operations, sales, fundraising and HR. Further, Akshat is the founder of StartupConnect, a collaborative social organization for founders to learn from their peers and mentors. Akshat began his career at JP Morgan Chase, following his graduation from Wharton. He is currently completing his MBA at the London Business School.
Akshat joined Moonfire to identify and evaluate companies for investment at Seed and Pre-Seed and to support the Moonfire founders on their journey. Akshat is sports mad, when he’s not on the padel tennis court, he’s supporting his beloved Manchester United from the stands or the sofa. A keen gamer, Akshat is a FIFA wizard and his first-hand experience of the game’s limitations is one of the many reasons why he’s very excited about what Goals is building.
Akshat has recently started tweeting, follow him here for his views on web3, gaming and much more.
Alice has joined Moonfire to manage all things legal and operational in a way that complements Moonfire’s technology-first ethos.
Alice has over 10 years’ experience in capital markets, technology and regulated financial services. She was previously the European Head of Legal at NYSE-listed Investment Technology Group and, prior to joining Moonfire, she advised a portfolio of European and US start-ups and SMEs on tackling legal and operational risk for scale.
Alice is a fluent speaker of French and Russian and a determined student of Swahili. In a lifelong sporting quest she has competed in fencing, ballroom dancing (yes, really), and the 100m sprint, which she is no doubt drilling as you read this update.
Jonas is a former economist and an experienced machine learning engineer with a background working on cutting-edge natural language processing (NLP) models. Prior to joining Moonfire, Jonas worked as a machine learning engineer at one of London’s leading machine learning startups, Benevolent AI, where he built NLP models for drug discovery.
Jonas is a man of numerous passions including bonsai tree gardening, hiking and pencil drawing (read his Medium post on why everyone can draw here). A keen musician, Jonas has played the violin as part of the Royal Orchestral Society and the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra and used to produce and sell hip hop beats on MySpace.
PODCAST OF THE MONTH
Not Boring - The Web3 Debate
There are a lot of misunderstandings about web3, both wilful and unintentional. Here Packy McCormick offers a well-articulated rebuttal to a lot of the critiques of web3.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
Take care of the people, the products, and the profits - in that order
— Ben Horowitz
GOOD READS OF THE MONTH
The Power Law, by financial historian Sebastian Mallaby, takes us on a compelling journey about how venture capital evolved from a niche in Silicon Valley to the global phenomenon it is today.
Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for next month's edition.