4-Gen and Age-Tech

Following is a guest post by RWVS Board Member Bill Seibel, the founder of Mobiquity, who before then was CEO of Gumball, a consulting firm specializing in helping CEOs grow their companies and is executive chairman of LogMatrix.

Seibel earlier served as chairman and chief executive officer of Demantra, a leading provider of supply chain and marketing collaboration and analytics that he sold to Oracle in 2006. Before Demantra, Seibel was chairman and CEO of the e-business services company, ZEFER. There, he oversaw the company’s organic growth to more than $130 million in revenue in its first 18 months of operations. Prior to establishing ZEFER, Seibel was executive vice president of Cambridge Technology Partners (CTP) and one of its founding partners. Seibel serves on the boards of technology start-ups as well as several charitable boards, including the Boston Public Library, the College of Business at Northeastern University, the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University, Penn State’s College of Engineering and the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon.

A profound but mostly unrecognized demographic and economic trend is unfolding across the world.  For the first time in recorded history, four generations will routinely be alive at the same time.  In 1900, the average global human life span was 31.  By the end of World War II, it had risen to 48. Today, with more than a billion people aged 60-or-older, the life expectancy is above 70.  This group is annually growing more than 3X the rate of the total world population.  That longevity revolution is putting massive strains on all our major social systems — employment, retirement, education, healthcare, housing, transportation, food, and the environment. Humanity’s ability to manage this shift over the next 30 years, and the extent to which it increases or decreases well-being and overall quality of life, depend on the decisions we collectively make today.

The trends that are causing these challenges are also creating significant opportunities.  People are not just living longer.  Many are healthier, more active and working longer than previous generations.  In a 4-Gen world, 85-year-olds willingly work 30-hour weeks, homes adapt to age and ability, towns and cities center around people, and vehicles become our servants. A tsunami of trapped house equity is released, and entirely new product categories emerge such as lifetime mortgages, hybrid long-term care, upgradable home modules, intra-generational wealth contracts, and multi-generational cruises. Colleges are multi-age and learning is continuous. Retirement is replaced by re-creation, age-segregation by age-mingling. Death is dignified and taxes are reasonable. Resources are used ever more efficiently, and emissions are willingly curbed. These shifts are enabled by advances in artificial intelligence, on-demand production, engine efficiency, self-driving and pharmaceuticals, but equally by new business models and new intra-generational societal compacts.

Although most businesses target Millennials, people in the US over 60 now own 40% of disposable income and 75% of the wealth.  Since 2000, their total income has more than doubled. Companies are beginning to realize that for the last 20 years they have made significant investments to focus on the smallest, slowest growing market segment with the least amount of disposable income.

Enterprises are already re-thinking their business models and re-inventing their products and services to tap into this emerging market opportunity.  Age-tech – digitally enabling the Longevity Economy – will emerge as a major new investment theme.  Digitization of spending by and for older citizens will explode from $700B in 2018 to $4 Trillion in 2025.

In summary 4-Gen is not just a social movement.  It’s accompanied by political and economic movements.  Re-imagining social services, business models, cities, government services, healthcare…  4-Gen’s impact will be pervasive. 

We believe that a founding principle for Age-Tech is the primacy of developing mission-based companies, seeking to do good while doing well. The Longevity Economy coincides with, and reinforces, a fundamental resetting of societal norms – with pressures on work, health-span, sense of purpose, inequity and solvency. Our belief is that it is possible to build billion-dollar companies that will make a positive impact. This focus will enable us to attract high-quality, mission-oriented people and capital sources.

4-Gen is a social, political and economic movement that is still to be shaped. Age-Tech, projected to reach $2.7 Trillion by 2025, will be the enabler.  In 2018, two liquidity events signaled that it has arrived.  Best Buy’s purchase of GreatCall for $800M and Amazon’s purchase of PillPack for $1 Billion. The race is now on to create the next wave of billion-dollar Age-Tech companies.