So much seems monumental, so impactful these days that it's difficult to measure what matters. Take this week. OPEC's got oil ensconced above $42 a barrel where most U.S. oil companies can make it. Four gigantic retailers reported stellar earnings. The Fed may be weaning us off its credit binge. The Democrats nominated Biden.
But of all of these, I think the one that most shocked me is something that may have gone unnoticed by many of you. At 4:03 p.m. Wednesday, right after the market closed, a headline broke, one line that said "Salesforce Extends Work from Home Period until July 31, 2021."
Innocuous at first, correct? But then remember who runs Salesforce.com (CRM) : Marc Benioff. The long-standing CEO has been a visionary about Covid-19. He has the most popular site, work.com, about how to open the economy while under the terror of Covid. He was the first to call for a chief medical officer, rather than just have this key issue be handled by an overwhelmed human resources officer. He's been the biggest advocate of wearing masks, something that I can attest to because he has joined me in our mask contest, where now more than 600 teams from more than 50 countries are competing for designing the most wearable, and therefore most effective masks, in order to win $1 million of our money by going to xprize.org/mask to participate.
He had hoped to cut down the number of Covid cases dramatically. This new timeline is a form of surrender to the disease.
The implication of the exec most close to Covid save those directly trying to quell it, are staggering. Let me count them down.
First, if you know that you aren't returning to the office, and Marc has some of the biggest most beautiful and downright exciting offices in the world, then you better build an office at home. Now if you are in the suburbs, no problem. You convert a bedroom or a den. But if you live in a two-bedroom in the city, you are moving out. Most older homes don't have a great office setup. So, you might be tempted to buy a new house that has one, because that's what homebuilders are now doing. The whole ex-urban timeline just sped up simply because this thought leader has given you a year to get settled at home.
Second, if you thought that Zoom Video (ZM) was done, perhaps think again. Salesforce is trying to get large deals done. Up until the pandemic that means the equivalent of one-on-one personal touch. You get on a plane, you get the deal done. Now you are going to have to do it all from home. That's Zoom. Next year will most likely be the year where we get a leap to 5G. You might not notice how perfect it will be.
Third, airlines will not be able to recover fully without the business traveler. That's where the money is. Don't be so quick to pull the trigger there.
Fourth, cybersecurity is paramount with the home office because the bad guys have had the run of the joint without a central office to protect. These stay-at-homers are at the edge. The edge can't be easily protected.
Fifth, we may all be sick of cooking at home. Sorry, get used to it. The food stocks just got one more boost. Think snacks, PepsiCo (PEP) . Think companies built for this moment, B&G (BGS) and Conagra (CAG) .
Sixth, the office building real estate investment trusts? If thought leader Benioff sticks by his schedule, do you really need that central office to be as big as it is -- I am not expecting a cancellation but let's be realistic -- then these REITs are now non-investible, something that's important given that they tend to pay big distributions.
Finally the movement to refurnish is alive and well. That's great for At Home (HOME) , as we heard last night, and it is terrific for Wayfair (W) . I think many are expecting these stocks have peaked. I now don't think so.
We are always, in this business, trying to spot a fad and sell it or even short it. Work at home, stay at home was supposed to be a fad. Wednesday Salesforce told us it wasn't. Now, I expect as many companies as can do, to follow suit.