Never Normal Newsletter

Home-as-a-Service, RIP Silicon Valley, and the Winter of European Nomads

Hi again from Valencia 🌞

No Never Normal newsletter last week. Instead I was relaxing in Ibiza with my family. It was great to get some time away from a computer screen.

We stayed in a fancy resort, which is not something I do very often. I enjoyed it — playing in the sea and the pool with my daughter, watching the stunning sunsets every evening with my wife, accompanied by excellent electronic music sets — at the same time, I couldn’t help feeling like a bit like a prisoner.

After years of traveling as a nomad, I’m used to renting entire apartments on Airbnb, staying in walkable areas, buying my own groceries, cooking breakfast, and really feeling like I’m at home wherever I am in the world.

Much like the debate over top sheets and duvets, I suspect there is a generational shift happening here. For Gen X and the Boomers, there was a clear line:

Home is a place you own, decorate yourself, and fill with your stuff. Hotels are places where you stay for a few days when you go on vacation or a business trip.

But for millennials and Gen Z who rent homes, that line is getting blurrier by the day. As Dror Poleg wrote:

We are witnessing the convergence of the housing and lodging market.

Why should it take 30 seconds to find, pay, and move into an apartment on Sonder or Airbnb while it takes 30 days to find, pay, and move into the same apartment through the traditional residential leasing process? It doesn’t make sense and it won’t last.


The real estate and tech startup scenes both lit up this week with gossip about WeWork founder Adam Neumann’s latest venture, Flow.

Most of the talk centers around the fact that they’ve already raised 350 million dollars at a one billion dollar valuation, before even launching.

There’s comparatively little information about what exactly Flow will be doing with all that money. Some articles suggest that “Flow will offer furnished apartments and flexible leases.”

If that’s correct, then Flow will be joining a growing number of startups in the “reinvent housing” space:

Bungalow and Common offer “Beautiful shared homes, accessible monthly rent.”

June HomesLanding, and Zeus Living promise customers can “live on your own terms” in their fully-furnished apartments with flexible lease tease in popular U.S. markets.

Sentral describes their offering as, “more at-your-service than a typical apartment but homier than a hotel” while Mint House promises “The comfort of home. The luxury of a hotel.”

With locations in cities around the world, from Austin to Zurich, Blueground invites customers to “experience the home that moves with you for a month, a year, or longer with a global network of designer, furnished apartments.”

And in Europe, Hivegeist “aims to redefine the concept of freedom and create a new way of living” with luxury coliving in Lisbon, Prague, Mallorca, Barcelona, and more locations coming soon.

RIP Silicon Valley

A few weeks ago, Andreessen Horowitz, one of the most storied VC firms in Silicon Valley (investors in Airbnb, Instagram, Slack, and dozens of other household name tech companies) announced that they are moving to the cloud:

In our firm’s new operating model, we work primarily virtually, but will use our physical presence to develop our culture, help entrepreneurs, and build relationships. Specifically, the firm is now virtual, but can materialize physically on command.

This isn’t just some temporary health and safety or cost-cutting measure, it’s based on a fundamental belief that the world has changed these past few years:

Nearly every technology company has moved to a remote or hybrid approach to work and this change is profoundly weakening the Silicon Valley network effect.

Influential as they are, a16z is just one company, but they’re hardly alone in their assessment. Balaji has been predicting Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit for nearly 10 years.

More recently, Y Combinator founder, Paul Graham (another titan of tech investing), observed that successful startups are now fully remote/ distributed.

Gen Z And The Rise Of Influencer Culture

“41% of New York Gen Zs intend on becoming an influencer in the future.”

Something I’ve been thinking about:

European countries like Spain, Italy, and Malta are launching programs to attract digital nomads with visas and tax breaks.

But I think it will be the record high energy prices expected this winter that will push more Europeans to become digital nomads themselves, migrating from the colder, more expensive countries in the north of the continent to the cheaper, warmer countries in the south (and beyond to places like Turkey, Morocco, Mexico, and Southeast Asia).

That’s all for this week!

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I write occasional emails to share what I’m thinking, learning, and doing. It’s all related to the idea of breaking free from the “default plan” in life.

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