On the heels of its NTWRK investment, FaZe Clan looks at global expansion despite pandemic

FaZe Clan, the esports mega-franchise worth more than $240 million, is still planning on moving forward with its international expansion this year on the heels of a multi-million-dollar funding round backed by investors including Jimmy Iovine and the startup shopping network, NTWRK.

Backed by Drake, Live Nation and Iovine, NTWRK is not just an investor in FaZe Clan, the startup will also be the home for the esports entertainment hub’s future merchandising efforts.

Part of the capital could go toward planned international expansion efforts, which would see FaZe Clan set up a global network of FaZe houses for its entertainers. Already a cornerstone of the culture that’s sprung up around online gaming and streaming entertainment, FaZe is doubling down on its production and distribution, according to chief executive Lee Trink.

While ad dollars and spending are plummeting across the entertainment world, demand for placement on FaZe Clan’s streams continues to grow, said Trink.

“We’re not experiencing that [decline] right now (not as far as our sponsorship and brand deals),” Trink said. “There’s been a massive constriction for that capital around advertising, but there’s been greater restriction around avenues to deploy that capital.”

Lee Trink, chief executive of FaZe Clan (Photo courtesy of FaZe Clan)

FaZe remains unfazed by those constraints because there’s no entertainment that’s more epidemic-proof than watching a bunch of folks play video games alone (or in a socially distant group) in a house. It’s the perfect entertainment for pandemic times.

TechCrunch’s parent company Verizon inked a deal with the FaZe Clan team to promote a tournament, and the company’s Fight 2 Fund raised money for organizations working to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We’re one of the last shows in show-business that are still going on,” says Trink. 

Trink’s statement is a simple fact. Interest in streaming is skyrocketing and even traditional celebrities are embracing the FaZe Clan’s work-from-home aesthetic (pioneered by the original YouTube streamers who paved the way for vlogging as entertainment).

The company’s roster of talent is showcased on the newly launched subscription service, Quibi, and has partnered with NTWRK to create promotions in the past.

And the company is still looking for new capital to fund its activities. On the heels of the Series A close, which Trink said happened in December and included a slew of celebrities on top of Iovine and NTWRK, the company will be going back out to market this year to raise another $10 million to $15 million.  

Some of that cash would likely be used to fund the expansion that Trink says is a part of FaZe Clan’s future growth plans — despite the pandemic.

“We’re looking to do a lot of interesting moves regarding houses,” said Trink. “There are some exciting conversations going on around international expansion during this time. The chances of there being FaZe houses around the world is likely.”

With $23 million for its plant-based, liquid meals, Kate Farms pushes into consumer and healthcare

Kate Farms, the supplier of a plant-based liquid meal formula used by hospitals and healthcare providers around the country as a nutritional supplement for patients who cannot process solid foods, has raised $23 million in a round of funding.

The new money will allow the company to ramp up its production as it looks to meet significant new demand from both consumers and healthcare providers, according to chairman and chief executive, Brett Matthews.

Founded by Richard and Michelle Laver, who initially developed the formula for their daughter, Kate, a child whose cerebral palsy meant that she couldn’t eat solid foods or process the tube-feeding formulas available on the market, Kate Farms has grown into a business that serves hospitals around the country.

Matthews, whose son suffered from upper respiratory and autoimmune issues, was first introduced to the company as a customer. “My son was very sick… and food was really critical to his healing. I knew a lot about the products and food as medicine and really jumped in and invested.”

From that initial investment, Matthews’ responsibilities with the company expanded, first as chairman of the Kate Farms board and then, eventually, stepping in to become chief executive of the company.

Throughout its history Kate Farms has raised capital from individual, rather than institutional, investors, and the new financing is no different. Capital came from a slew of heavyweight investors, including: David Roux, the co-founder of Silver Lake; John Hammergren, former chairman and chief executive of McKesson; Gregg Engles, former chairman and chief executive of the plant-based dairy replacement company, WhiteWave Foods; and William and Kristin Loomis, the former chief executive of Lazard and the founder and executive director of HHV-6 Foundation, respectively.

That clutch of high-powered founders and executives joins backers including Pete Nicholas, the founder and former chief executive of Boston Scientific; Robert Zollars, the former President of Baxter International, chairman of Diamond Foods and EVP of Cardinal Health; and Celeste Clark, the former executive team management member at Kellogg’s Global Nutrition.

The money, which closed late last year, is being used to ramp production as the company races to meet increasing demand caused by the COVID-19 epidemic and the government’s response. Kate Farms is donating $1 million worth of meals to Meals on Wheels programs across Southern California. The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company said that would equate to roughly 225,000 meals for people who need it.

The company’s plant-based, non-GMO meal replacements have been clinically proven to improve nutrition among children and adults who need tube-fed meals. One study was published in the journal of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition based on clinical trials conducted with Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates, according to Matthews.

We can improve weight gain in the pediatric market,” Matthews said. “And we can improve tolerance.”

The market for medical conditions that require tube feeding numbers around 700,000 in the U.S., with another 150 million people who could use the company’s products for less severe nutritional issues, Matthews said. It’s a roughly $3 billion market in the U.S., and $10 billion globally.

But Kate Farms has its eyes on a much bigger prize. As the company noted in a statement, the consumer market for plant-based dairy replacements was $21 billion in 2017 and is expected to top $37.5 billion by 2024. And over the next decade, meat alternatives are expected to grow from $4.6 billion in 2018 to $85 billion by 2030, according to UBS Investments

“Our focus right now is on the medical side of it, but you could see where this could evolve,” said Matthews. 

ClimateView raises $2.5 million for its toolkit to visualize climate mitigation plans

ClimateView, a Swedish software development company working on monitoring and visualization tools for greenhouse gas emissions, said it has raised $2.5 million in its latest round of financing.

While the world is gripped by the material and economic toll of the COVID-19 epidemic, the problems society faces from longterm global climate change have not gone away.

It’s against this backdrop that investors including the Norrsken Foundation, an impact investment firm established by Klarna co-founder Niklas Adalberth; and Nordic Makers, an angel syndicate composed of founders from Zendesk, Sitecore, and Unity Technologies, decided to invest in ClimateView. Nordic Makers, Max Ventures, and GGV Capital also participated in the funding, the company said.

Using ClimateView’s software, cities around the world have a window into their climate data — including emissions and other sustainability and resilience information — so that they can plan accordingly for how best to proceed with decarbonization efforts and climate change mitigation plans.

So far, around 1,348 municipalities, townships, and villages in 26 countries have declared a climate emergency, but there’s no real effort to understand from a systems perspective what steps need to be taken to mitigate the worst impacts of the changing global climate, the company said.

“It’s an exciting time for ClimateView as we work to reinvent the way in which society works with the climate challenge,” said founder and chief executive Tomer Shalit, in a statement. “Our solution-focused approach to climate action is already gaining traction in a number of cities across the globe and we hope that, with this investment, we can continue to lay the groundwork for decision making so that, together, the world’s cities and nations can forge a common path towards global carbon neutrality.”

Historically, environmental policy and planning has been limited by a lengthy decision-making, planning-intensive process that hasn’t been able to access the latest data visualization tools and projections to make decisions based on current developments, the company said.

ClimateView’s software provides a central hub of all development, emissions, and projected urban planning data to accelerate the planning process.

The company’s premier project has been its work with the Swedish Climate Policy Council, which used the ClimateView software and suite of services to release a publicly available digital roadmap using the company’s Panorama software.

“Norrsken invests in startups that make the world better, so ClimateView is an ideal fit for us,”said Tove Larssen, a general partner with Norrsken. “We are really intrigued by their ambition to provide a global platform that makes it possible to fight climate change faster and more efficiently, and are delighted to be on board to help them achieve this goal.”

Headspace appoints former Intuit exec CeCe Morken as president and COO

As it looks to continue along its path of developing clinically validated digital therapeutics for consumer and clinical mental health and wellness, Headspace has bulked up its executive team with the addition of longtime Intuit executive, CeCe Morken.

Morken will become the company’s first president and chief operating officer, joining the Los Angeles based, billion-dollar-valued, mental wellness after spending thirteen years at Intuit .

She previously served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of that company’s strategic partner group.

Morken has spent the past thirty five years at technology companies and will be reporting directly to the company’s co-founder and chief executive, Rich Pierson.

Her operational experience will come in handy as Headspace continues to develop both commercial and clinical products to bring to market, Pierson said.

“We are thrilled to welcome to CeCe, a team-oriented and purpose-driven leader, to the Headspace team,” said Pierson in a statement. “We feel so lucky that the company is in a position to attract someone with the deep experience that CeCE has in scaling world-class organizations.”

While on the surface there may not appear to be much similarity between a massive, decades-old accounting software development behemoth and a ten-year-old startup which has made its name focused on mental wellness, Pierson said that as Headspace expands it would require the skills that Morken developed over decades in operational roles at her previous company.

Headspace is already a giant in the mental wellness category. It counts over 62 million users around the world and its Headspace for work service is being rolled out as a service for employees at companies like Adobe, General Electric, Hyatt, and Starbucks. The company has research underway in over ten clinical trials to move from mental wellness into the digital health category, under its Headspace Health subsidiary, which launched in 2018.

Australian startup SafetyCulture nabs $800 million valuation on $35.5 million round

SafetyCulture, the Australian enterprise software company that manages security and compliance checks at companies around the world, has raised $35.5 million at an $800 million valuation in its latest round of funding.

Nearly half of the new money was meant to provide liquidity to employee shareholders who had been with the company over three years, according to a person familiar with the transaction.

The round was led by the Australian growth capital investor TDM Growth Partners, with participation from other local Australian investors like Blackbird Ventures, Skip Capital (the firm created by Atlassian co-founder and co-chief executive, Scott Farquhar and helmed by his wife, Kim Jackson) and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife.

In all the company has raised over $100 million for its compliance software.

“This is an exciting milestone for us to achieve as a company, especially during uncertain times like these,” SafetyCulture founder and CEO Luke Anear said in a statement. “We’re particularly happy about giving employees the opportunity to sell some of their equity as a reward for all their hard work and continued loyalty.”

Over 26,000 companies in 85 countries use the iAuditor app to make safety checks every year. The company just crossed the cash-flow positive threshold and has operations in Kansas City, Sydney, Townsville, Manchester and Manila.

The new funding will be used to continue the company’s product development as it looks to move from being a security and safety checklist to a more robust collaboration and communication platform, the company said.

“Today’s announcement continues what has been 12 months of hyper growth for SafetyCulture’s Americas headquarters in Kansas City,” said Bob Butler, General Manager of SafetyCulture Americas. ” The North American market currently makes up around 40% of our customers and this significant injection of capital enables us to accelerate product development for items customers need, along with the talent and marketing needed to scale our business to serve more customers and have a greater impact on safety and quality for workers all around the US.”

In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, the company said it would offer its premium safety audit product and other features free for six months to healthcare, emergency, education, and volunteer organizing companies and on-profits.

SafetyCulture’s current customers include: Emirates, Coca-Cola, GE, IKEA, Unilever, BHP Billiton and Accor. SafetyCulture.

Silicon Valley Bank only started processing stimulus loan applications today

In a sign of just how broken the process is for startups looking to receive stimulus dollars, Silicon Valley Bank, the bank that claims “more innovative startups bank with us than any other bank,” only just began processing claims today.

“Since the CARES Act and the PPP were announced, we have been hard at work advocating for our clients to have access to this funding. We have been working around the clock to develop a process that works for our clients. Thousands of companies have indicated interest in the last several days,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “We are currently accepting and processing PPP applications and continue to receive a high volume of interest. We will continue to listen to our clients and do everything we can to support their success.”

The stimulus loans that startups hope to access were created to save jobs at companies affected by the government’s closure of non-essential businesses. The initiative is part of a broad range of measures meant to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 epidemic.

For startup companies, the loan package has proven to be a source of nearly as much consternation as the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I’m a startup founder who banks with Silicon Valley Bank,” wrote one tipster. “They are totally dropping the ball on the Paycheck Protection Program. Other banks began accepting applications on Friday, it’s now Tuesday and no word from SVB. Really bad for startups.”

For its part, Silicon Valley Bank said it was working around the clock to make sure its customers were able to access the federal money.

Many companies and their investors are confused about whether they are even eligible for stimulus money — and if they are eligible whether they should apply. Investors have refused to go on the record about the advice they’re giving to their portfolio companies.

Perhaps the clearest view of the conundrum startups face has come from the Los Angeles-based investor Mark Suster, who “open-sourced” his own firm’s advice on how to approach the Paycheck Protection Loans — the $. 349 billion small business lending program at the heart of the CARES Act.

Small banks aren’t the only ones having problems getting those much-needed stimulus dollars in the hands of the companies that desperately need them. Several businesses have been stymied in their attempts to receive loans through applications to larger banks.

Customers at Bank of America href="https://twitter.com/Drkcbugg/status/1246126907244118017?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1246126907244118017&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vox.com%2F2020%2F4%2F7%2F21209584%2Fpaycheck-protection-program-banks-access"> have reported being unable to apply for the government-backed loans from the program without having an existing line of credit with the bank.

And those aren’t the only problems. The Small Business Administration, tasked with overseeing the loan process, is not equipped to dole out the nearly $2 trillion in government funds that are expected to flow through the agency.

“If you can’t get the loan today or tomorrow, don’t worry,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday on Fox Business. “There will be money. And if we run out of money, we’ll come back for more.”

Meanwhile startup entrepreneurs are left holding the bag. And their concerns are warranted. Even by the standards of other financial services firms, the Silicon Valley Bank response was slow. The loans became available on Friday and SVB only started issuing loans on Tuesday of the following week.

When asked when SVB first made the loan applications available, the company said it started this morning.

“Due to the high volume, each company’s randomized notification of the ability to apply did not appear all at the same time,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email.

It’s a sign of a broader failure in the market. As one entrepreneur wrote in an email earlier today:

“Lots of startups (mine included) bank with SVB. The PPP loans are given out on a first come first serve basis – so their screwup might result in thousands of startups not getting these critical loans and we will have to lay people off.
SVB promised to have the program up and running by 4PM PST yesterday. At 5PM PST they put a weak ass message on their website (link below) saying they regret missing their own deadline.

There has been no subsequent communication from them and their phone lines are all disconnected. Relationship managers are not responding to emails or calls either.

LOTS of startup founders I know are furious, and rightfully so. We are going to lose 2.5x months payroll because our bank fucked up. It is ridiculous and we would expect better from a bank that prides itself on serving startups. Main street banks like Bank of America and Chase had their PPP applications up and running on Friday (April 4th) but only for existing clients, so all of us startups who were dumb enough to rely on SVB are FUCKED. Switching to a new bank is not an option because a) all the branches are closed and b) the KYC process takes a couple of weeks so it’s too late.”

Livongo stock jumps over 10 percent on revised earnings guidance, pointing to digital health boom

Livongo Health’s stock jumped over ten percent on a day that saw most exchanges tumble after a day of crazy volatility.

The digital diagnostics and therapeutics company is benefiting from booming demand for digital health services as remote medicine takes center stage for beleaguered health care providers looking to keep treating patients while also responding to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Livongo, a provider of behavioral management treatments and diagnostic tools for chronic conditions including diabetes, hypertension, weight management, and mental health, sits squarely in the center of current medical needs.

The company announced a revised preliminary guidance for its first quarter 2020 revenue to be in the range of $65.5 million to $66.5 million versus prior guidance of $60 million to $62 million according to the company.

The better-than-expected results sent the stock surging in trading on Tuesday, jumping $3.07 per share to close at $33.16, a better than ten percent gain even as the major indices fell in late trading.

“We began 2020 well positioned to pursue our mission of empowering people with chronic conditions to live better and healthier lives, and now more than ever, our efforts are necessary to support our Members and Clients through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zane Burke, Livongo’s chief executive, in a statement.

“Our record Client launches of over 620 in the first quarter and Member enrollment are ahead of expectations and we continue to see strong demand in our pipeline. Livongo is in the unique position of providing assistance to some of the most vulnerable populations, people with chronic conditions, and according to last week’s CDC report, 78 percent of people who were admitted to the intensive care unit due to COVID-19 had at least one pre-existing health condition.”

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in late December, digital health startups have seen demand soar. Everything from telemedicine consultations to digital diagnostics and remote monitoring and triaging of health conditions has seen record growth.

Livongo is an early, public, beneficiary of a trend that’s playing out in private startups as well. That’s reflected in recent rounds for telemedical startups like K Health, which raised $48 million in a Series C round. Or in the financing for the Seattle-based startup 98point6, which raised $43 million in a Series D funding round.

“Virtual care plays an important part in enabling social distancing to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Brad Younggren, MD, chief medical officer of 98point6, in a statement. 

Tyto Care raises $50 million as it looks to buy and build new services during COVID-19 demand surge

Tyto Care, the provider of a home health diagnostic device and telemedicine consultation app, said it has raised $50 million in a new round of funding.

The round was led by Insight Partners, Olive Tree Ventures, and Qualcomm Ventures, according to a statement, and brings the startup’s total capital raised to more than $105 million.

The funding comes just as Tyto has seen a dramatic surge in demand brought on by the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tyto Care’s toolkit is being used as a telehealth diagnostic solution that was already seeing three times sales growth in 2019 alone.

Last year, the company inked a deal with Best Buy and works with most of the major telemedicine providers, including American Well, Teladoc and others.

Previous investors Orbimed, Echo Health, Qure, Teuza and others also participated in the new financing, the company said in a statement.

With the financing, Tyto Care is well-positioned to both buy and build new tools based on its existing diagnostics platform, as well as expand its home health testing kit into new areas.

Companies like Scanwell Health are providing at-home diagnostic tests for things like urinary tract infections, and Tyto Care chief executive Dedi Gilad definitely sees options for new products around different kinds of at-home tests, the Tyto Care founder said in an interview.

All of this new capital comes with surging demand where Tyto Care’s telehealth technology is being used by every hospital in Israel to provide remote examinations of quarantined and isolated patients infected with COVID-19. Other hospital networks are also turning to the company’s diagnostics tools for similar applications, the company said.

The remote medical exams can protect health providers from exposure to SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and enables uninfected patients to get an examination of their basic health remotely, without needing to go to a medical facility.

“Over the past two years, Tyto Care has increased momentum faster than ever before and is playing a leading role in changing how people receive healthcare. Telehealth is heeding the call of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are proud that our unique solution is aiding health systems and consumers around the world in the fight against the virus,” said Gilad, in a statement. “This new funding comes at a pivotal moment in the evolution of telehealth and will enable us to continue to transform the global healthcare industry with the best virtual care solutions.”

Hims launches group therapy services as first foray into broader mental health initiative

Hims, the startup consumer health brand providing out-of-pocket physician services online, has launched group therapy services through its Hims and Hers brands as part of an initial push into mental health services.

The company first began exploring opportunities to expand into the mental health category around eight months ago, and accelerated its pace to respond to increased consumer demand cery aused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mental health and wellness has become a huge business opportunity for consumer startups as the stigma around seeking treatment for mental health issues has abated.

For Hims, which built its brand around the destigmatization of disorders like erectile dysfunction, and sexual health and wellness, the extension into mental health made sense, according to founder and chief executive, Andrew Dudum . “It’s probably the simplest leap the company has made,” he said.

“Hair loss, STDs, acne, performance anxiety… These are really medical conditions that get to your core around confidence, self-worth and stigma… these are not topics of conversation,” Dudum said. “There is a big need in our customer base to help them with areas of anxiety, stress and depression… There is nothing more stigmatized than mental health.”

Hims and Hers are beginning their foray into mental wellness with anonymized group therapy and guided meditation sessions that won’t have the same hurdles to providing treatment that the company would have for individual therapy or text-based sessions.

Government regulations at the federal and state level require mental health clinicians to be licensed in-state, which means that the company is limited in the kinds of services it can offer before it rolls out its network.

Currently, the company has about a dozen mental health practitioners that it’s working with through Regroup Telehealth, one of the largest providers of tele-psychiatry services in the country.

Ultimately, Hims envisions providing a continuum of care ranging from anonymous group therapy sessions to telemedical consultations, to in-person, video consultations and an ability to issue prescriptions to folks that need it.

Like its other services, the mental health offerings are going to be capped at the provision of some very basic services and the company won’t be prescribing any medication for what could be considered controlled substances, according to the company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Patrick Carroll.

“We only treat low risk patients,” Dr. Carroll said. “It will be the same thing for behavioral health… the conventional screen is a PHQ9… We will have a depression and anxiety screen. For those folks that get scripts we can make sure that their prescriptions line up with the tests and screens.”

That means the company won’t be prescribing medications like Xanax, Ritalin, Adderall, or anti-psychotics for people with more serious conditions. “The majority of things that we will prescribe will be [serotonin re-uptake inhibitors],” said Caroll. Those are medications like Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexipro.

To ensure that the company’s practitioners are meeting the requisite standard of care, each interaction with a therapist will be recorded and roughly 10% to 20% of those interactions will be audited, per company policy. “We’re going to have the same quality structure in place,” said Dr. Carroll. “We will have therapists as well as advisers who are going to be part of the quality review process and review encounters to make sure that the guidelines.”

The group therapy sessions, which will typically cost $15, are free for the next few months as the nation struggles to cope with the dramatic social changes caused by the government’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Eventually the company expects to adopt a monthly subscription fee for its mental health offerings, including $50 per month for text based therapy and more customized options. Prices will cap at a few hundred dollars per month.

Unlike companies like SonderMind, which announced the close of a new round of financing yesterday, Hims and Hers mental wellness offerings won’t be covered by any healthcare plan. Instead it’s an out-of-pocket expense similar to the other services that the company offers.

That model appears to be working. “We have seen over 1 million patients over the platform over the past year and a half,” said Dudum. “From high risk cardiovascular disease and diabetes… The medical system that has been put in place by Pat and the 300 plus physician organizations… is one that is already treating very serious conditions.” 

In some way, mental health is the most appropriate candidate for a telemedical offering, according to Steve Monte, a field lecturer with the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California.

“I like to think about it as an idea whose time has come,” said Monte. “Coronavirus has shed a light on how useful these services are.”

Indeed, many companies already are providing virtual mental health services. Teladoc, the publicly traded telemedicine provider has a subsidiary called BetterHelp, which offers mental healthcare via the phone.

For Forerunner Ventures co-founder and managing partner, Kirsten Green, the movement into mental health by Hims was a very natural extension of the company’s core thesis.

“The thing that drew me to the company was reimagining certain elements of healthcare and providing access to people,” said Green. “We’re not going to be able to service every medical need in this way. To the extent that there are things that can be handled in the appropriate high integrity way that can be supplied digitally we want to be able to provide that to the customer.”

Stocks rise following yesterday’s sharp rally

After a sharp Monday rally seemingly built on optimism that the impact of the global pandemic may have reached its zenith in Europe — and indeed that the United States might see a lower infection and mortality peak than some anticipated — shares once again rose this morning.

Here’s how the day looks a few minutes into the start of trading today, on this holiday-shortened week:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: rose 886.67 at the open, or 3.91%, to 23,566.66
  • S&P 500: climbed to 85.46, or 3.21%, to 2,749.14
  • Nasdaq Composite: scaled 207.20, or 2.62%, to 8,120.44

Shares of SaaS and cloud companies, as measured by the Bessemer cloud index, were XXXX to start the day as well.

While the value of equities remain depressed from recent highs, yesterday’s close and today’s open have scrubbed quite a lot of red ink from the domestic market. However, volatility has been the only certainty for stock markets in recent weeks, so a few days’ trading should not be read as a longterm directional shift. Tomorrow could bring a selloff if the news turns.

Investors are hoping for a quick containment of COVID-19 and a rapid return to work, boosted by massive Federal stimulus and aid. It isn’t clear how realistic that scenario is, given rising unemployment and many states pursuing more weeks of shutdowns, and months of social distancing. How to value an economy that will either return to form slowly, or a bit more quickly than slowly, is hard. But, traders appear more sunny than not as they bid for shares today.

Earnings are next. Q1 2020 results are likely going to matter less than forecasts, so how companies talk about the future that investors are currently betting on and against will set the tone moving forward. Today, sitting between the start of the quarter, new unemployment claims data, and the real onset of earnings means that we’re in something of an information vacuum. And into such a lack of substance all sorts of optimism can blow.

Still, better positive thinking than negative, perhaps.